There are many schools across our country that stand out for their intellectual prowess and academic achievement, and among them, Harvard College stands out as the formidable leader. Indeed, there are countless examples where other colleges and universities tried to go toe-to-toe with the prestigious institution and came up short.
However, that doesn't mean they are unbeatable, nor that it would take another Ivy League school to put them in their place. But when the Eastern correctional facility challenged the college's debate team to a friendly competition, no one expected such a result.
The two teams butted heads on heated political topics; whether public schools should be allowed to deny enrollment to undocumented students? The inmates were told to argue that they should not allow enrollment, and even though they made their opposing beliefs known, they managed to successfully win the debate by bringing up several compelling points.
No one was more taken aback than the Harvard Debating Union, but this wasn't the first time that the maximum security prisoners have stepped up to the plate against other illustrious schools.
Defeating Harvard was a huge win for the prison inmates, who don't have access to many of the same resources, such as professors or even the internet.
Currently, the prison works with the nearby Bard College to give prisoners the chance to study courses, so that they can improve themselves before reentering society.
“Debate helps students master arguments that they don’t necessarily agree with,” says Max Kenner, founder of the initiative. “It also pushes people to learn to be not just better litigators but to become more empathetic people, and that’s what really speaks to us as an institution about the debate union.”
Those who have taken part in the program have gone on to do much better after their sentence was complete, and less than 2% have committed any crimes after release. Incredible statistics when compared with the statewide average of 40%.
Harvard congratulated the team, and the prisoners are looking forward to their next competition!