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Published on October 13th, 2015 | by PEM

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Harvard’s Debate Team Competed Against New York Prison Inmates … And You Won’t Believe Who Won!

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The debate took place at the Eastern correctional facility in New York. This is no typical maximum-security prison. Here inmates can take courses taught by faculty from nearby Bard College. The inmates in the Bard program formed a debate club and had their target set on the Ivy league national champs at Harvard University.

The ultimate underdog story

With a chip on their shoulder and having home field advantage, Harvard came to the prison to debate a myriad of complicated subjects. The three-judge panel crowned the ultimate underdogs of the Bard team as the victors.

 

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Harvard’s debate team posted on Facebook how impressed they were with their opponents.

“There are few teams we are prouder of having lost a debate to than the phenomenally intelligent and articulate team we faced this weekend, and we are incredibly thankful to Bard and the Eastern New York Correctional Facility for the work they do and for organizing this event.”There is no link between criminality and lack of intelligence, and this program is more proof that our country should be investing in more programs to help prisoners succeed after serving time. Max Kenner, executive of the Bard Prison Initiative told the AP., “Students in the prison are held to the exact same standards, levels of rigor and expectation as students on Bard’s main campus. Those students are serious. They are not condescended to by their faculty.”

 

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The most impressive aspect about this upset is how these inmates prepared. They are not granted access to the internet. Every book and article they wanted to read had to be approved by the prison administration, which could take weeks. Harvard students were Googling away while the Bard debate team had to plan far ahead to construct their strategy.

 


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