Harvard University’s National Champion Debate Team has been defeated by New York prison inmates in a recent debate.
The Guardian reports that the debate happened in New York’s East correctional facility where inmates take courses taught by faculty from the nearby Bard College. The inmates have “formed a popular debate club” and invited the Harvard students for “a friendly competition.”
Three Ivy League students faced off with three men who were imprisoned at the correctional facility.
Wall Street Journal notes that the motion of the debate was, “Public schools in the United States should have the ability to deny enrollment to undocumented students.”
The Bard Team was asked to promote such argument.
The site mentions that veteran panel Judge Mary Nugent said that the team had proposed a “strong case.” Their proposal was, “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.”
Judge Nugent mentioned that the Harvard Team was not able to respond to some parts of their argument. She praised both teams for their excellence. She admits that all three judges had justified their votes “on specific rules and standards.”
The Harvard Debate team likewise praised the inmates for their excellent preparation and arguments.
Meanwhile, Carlos Polanco from the Bard Team admitted “that he would never want to bar a child from school and he felt forever grateful he could pursue a Bard diploma,” as mentioned on Wall Street Journal.
How the inmates defeated the students was “inspiring” and “heartbreaking,” as posted on Huffington Post.
The site mentions that it was not the first time that the team won. Last year, they also won in the debate with U.S. Military Academy at West Point.
The inmates were part of the Bard Prison Initiative (BPI) which is said to “rehabilitate inmates and help them return to their communities productive members of society.”
BPI Founder Max Kenner told Huffington Post, “There is so much talent in the U.S. that has no access, no opportunity, that is completely unengaged by leaders in higher education. But we know extraordinary talent can be found in the most unconventional places.”