Harvard’s Championship Debate Squad Defeated By Maximum Security Prison Inmates
Prison inmates vs. Harvard students in a battle of wits? Not since The Longest Yard have prisoners scored a bigger victory over such long odds.
Members of the Bard Prison Initiative Debate team, who are actually maximum security prisoners at Eastern New York Correctional Facility in the Catskills, defeated the award-winning Harvard College Debating Union in a friendly competition on Friday at Napanoch, N.Y.
Eddie Albert is furious.
— AJC (@ajc) October 7, 2015
The prison debaters are part of a Bard College (Annandale-on-Hudson, N.Y.) program that seeks to give a second chance to inmates hoping to build a better life. Wall Street Journal:
Ironically, the inmates had to promote an argument with which they fiercely disagreed. Resolved: “Public schools in the United States should have the ability to deny enrollment to undocumented students.”
Judge Mary Nugent, leading a veteran panel, said the Bard team made a strong case that the schools attended by many undocumented children were failing so badly that students were simply being warehoused. The team proposed that if “dropout factories” with overcrowded classrooms and insufficient funding could deny these children admission, then nonprofits and wealthier schools would step in and teach them better.
Ms. Nugent said the Harvard College Debating Union didn’t respond to parts of that argument, though both sides did an excellent job.
“They caught us off guard,” said Harvard's Anais Carell, a 20-year-old junior from Chicago.
Brian Estes 2 hours ago
The Prison team will be even stronger next year with Hillary.
-- From WSJ comments section.
The judges' decision wasn't a sympathy vote. Each team had to justify their answers, which were scored on a strict grading system. The Bard team has also beaten debate teams from the University of Vermont and the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.
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