The Infamous Harvard vs. New York Prisoners Debate

debate graphicI know you have heard about it on the television networks (ABC, CBS, FOX, and NBC). You may have even heard about it on NPR of all places!

Yes, I am talking about the debate between a group of Harvard students and a group of prisoners from the Eastern New York Correctional Facility in Napanoch, New York.

This event was tailor-made for a great news story in the mainstream media as it sensationalizes one of our democracy’s most esteemed institutions: public debate. This is not surprising in the run up to a presidential election where words like “loser”, “stupid”, and “big boy pants” are thrown out into the public sphere by the current candidates.

I must confess up front that I have been a policy debater, coach, judge, and teacher at the high school, university, and graduate school levels. I have written about these experiences in previous posts: A. Craig Baird Debate Forum: Going Home For The NDT and In “Debate Mode” . I have also coached parliamentary debate in Singapore and help coach the HBU mock trial team. I teach a class in Argumentation and Advocacy here at HBU as well.

Because I have been hearing about this debate event nonstop, I really just want to set the record straight. Continue reading