Hot-button political issues were debated in an event featuring Duke Democrats and Duke College Republicans Monday night.

During the event—sponsored by Duke Student Government and a number of student organizations focusing on government and politics—campus representatives of the two major political parties showcased the diversity of political beliefs on campus. The debate was held at Perkins Library in a room that many students complained was uncomfortably warm. Moderator Richard Salsman, a visiting assistant professor of political science, questioned the representatives about issues such as income inequality, racial discrimination, the national debt and LGBTQ discrimination. Students' questions, which were asked in person and over social media, covered issues including climate change, Planned Parenthood and American exceptionalism.

“The Battle of the Brains debate series will focus on fostering some intellectual ideas between students and between professors in an extracurricular environment,” said DSG Senator Jacob Glasser, a freshman.

Although Salsman said that a wide range of topics were covered, DCR President Adam Lemon, a junior, expressed disappointment in the choice of topics.

“We didn't anticipate the surprisingly overwhelming portion [of the debate] that would be devoted to social issues,” Lemon wrote in an email. “As Democrats tend to do better with social issue arguments most of the time, we were playing on their turf most of the night, which I didn't really appreciate."

He added that he wants the next debate to feature a more diverse spread of issues, including tax policy, immigration, entitlement reform, China and the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the challenges presented by the Islamic State group.

When asked about how to handle racial injustice, Lemon talked about how better education would help upward mobility of minorities. Freshman Steve Hassey, communications director for Duke Democrats, pointed to the criminal justice system as an area for reform.

“To ignore the fact that one of the oldest republics in the world was erected on a foundation of minority subjugation and pretend that the problem of American racism is an issue of the past is to cover the crime of national plunder with the sin of national lying,” Hassey said. “To bridge this racial divide, we support more funding for bias training nationwide, mandated body cameras for the police force, a special Department of Justice unit for reviewing police conduct and criminal justice reform.”

Regarding racial issues on campus, both sides held opposing views. Whereas the Democrats presented a more centralized way of fixing the issue, the Republicans recommended changes on the activist level.

“The way to make policy changes on bad policies is to get allies and keep the moral high ground,” Lemon argued. “Some of these tactics you are seeing—ultimatums and trying to remove faculty—that's not the way you go about it.”

When asked about climate change, Duke Republicans pushed for a balance between sustaining the environment and maintaining the economy. Duke Democrats countered by noting that sustaining the environment could in fact maintain the economy through a focus on effective green technologies.

The debaters were also asked about whether the United States should allow Syrian refugees into the country. They clashed over how to handle the vetting process for the refugees.

“The perfect balance on this issue would be to improve the vetting process and still let the refugees in,” Lemon said.

The last question of the debate asked whether America was the greatest country in the world. Junior Carter Duncan, vice chair of the Duke College Republicans, affirmed that the United States is the greatest nation because of its spirit of optimism and liberty. Duke Democrats Treasurer Amy Wang, sophomore, took a more neutral position.

“In a lot of ways we are not, but we are in a position of great power,” Wang said. “We are the best poised to make things better for the entire international community.”