Natalie Gutierrez | Contributing Writer
Contrary to popular belief, political debates do not always have to be vociferous—and FIU’s Panther Dialectics proves just that.
The Panther Dialectics Club encourages students to hone their debate, dialogue, and mediation skills while tackling controversial topics. Panther Dialectics at Modesto Maidique Campus started in Jan 2021. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the club became a registered student organization in Jan 2022.
Dr. Joaquin A. Pedroso, the inaugural advisor of the club, is an assistant teaching professor at FIU’s department of politics and international relations. He explained that the club seeks to engage the university community by sponsoring debates pertaining to sociopolitical issues.
“Any student eager to engage in intelligent discussions concerning the issues of our day should join,” said Pedroso.
Carlos Padilla, a senior and international relations and political science double major at FIU, is the founder and president of the club. He is an honors college student and Hamilton Scholar in Washington, D.C. Padilla has been a member of the Model United Nations (UN) since the age of 13.
“We are a multi-disciplinary organization that has developed a new organizational structure. We not only encourage our members to engage in controversial dialogues around relevant topics, but we also give them the tools and train them on the skills needed to excel in these endeavors,” said Padilla. “It is the synthesis of my history in Model United Nations and what I’ve been taught by Dr. Joaquin A. Pedroso.”
Regarding regular meeting subjects, Padilla explains that the club discusses political theory, war, civil rights, economics, and general social topics. Padilla designed the dialogue system that is implemented during these meetings. Even when the discussions get heated, the board ensures that conversations remain civil.
“The debate system is a strategy that I’ve been trying to develop over time, and it has been very successful recently,” said Padilla.
In addition, the club brings in panelists who are FIU students and researchers. These panelists represent a variety of viewpoints when it comes to the topics presented.
One of the recent panelists, Vladimir Martinez, is a researcher who works in areas like political theory and philosophy. FIU alumnus Paul Bubon also visited and spoke about his experiences traveling to South America and advocating for changes in the agriculture industry. Another panelist, Francisco Abreu Rosado, is an economics major and public speaker and debater. Even members of the Young Democratic Socialists of America (YDSA) join the panel.
“The purpose is to create structural change in the way that people address controversial topics,” said Padilla, “this is not only a safe space but a brave space for people to discuss anything they want without feeling any pressure. Everyone is open to listen no matter what your take is.”
Another distinguishing aspect of the club is its presence in the new FIU Satellite Campus in Washington, D.C.
Whether people actively participate in the discussions or peer-review, all members are encouraged to contribute their ideas.
Panther Dialectics Club is looking to expand and invite not only students but also FIU faculty and staff members.
“We want the events to be as appealing and professional as possible,” said Padilla.
The club will host an upcoming event called Panther Talks at the end of the fall semester.
Presently, the club has a Discord server and WhatsApp group chat, where relevant discussions are ongoing. The club meets biweekly in person on the first floor of the Green Library at MMC and via Zoom.
You can learn more about the Panther Dialectics Club on Instagram at (@pantherdialectic), Linktree (https://linktr.ee/pantherdialectic), and PantherConnect.