A group of inmates from New York schooled Harvard’s award winning debate team in a recent match. The convicts started the debate club just over two years ago and are already gaining a reputation.
According to The Washington Post, the inmates hail from Eastern New York Correctional Facility, a maximum security prison that has a strong educational program. Bard College has partnered with the prison, offering up its faculty and resources to host a variety of classes and opportunities.
The debate itself, which took place last month, was part of Bard College’s Prison Initiative which gives educational opportunities to six New York prisons. Inmates there can earn different degrees while incarcerated. Max Kenner, the executive director for the program, told the Associated Press, “Students in the prison are held to the exact same standards, levels of rigor and expectation as students on Bard’s main campus.”
This is not the first college team the inmates have defeated CNN reported. They went head to head and defeated students at University of Vermont and at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, which has become an annual rivalry.
The APreported that the debate was centered around public policy. The inmates position was in defense of public schools’ ability to refuse admission to students with parents who came to the U.S. illegally. There was a panel of unbiased judges that ultimately found the inmates to be the winners.
Harvard’s team was awarded national title this past year, and a world title in 2014.