Tabs on Writing

The Business of Business Writing by John Tabellione, Principal at

Be It Resolved: Having an Ivy League Education is Debatable

Date: 07 October 2015
Category: Current Events, Homophones

Such may be the next topic of debate for the Eastern New York Correctional Facility, a maximum security prison, whose debate team recently defeated the prestigious Harvard College Debating Union, as they call themselves.

Granted, the three inmates with violent records were well-coached by Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, N.Y., whose program provides a second chance, liberal-arts education to talented, motivated prisoners. Since 2001, 300 persons have earned degrees through the Bard Prison Initiative while incarcerated, and less than 2% returned to prison within three years.

It’s a moot point whether state grants for college classes for inmates should be offered, because those reformed could become productive taxpayers and would save the state money long-term. On the other hand, many law-abiding families struggle to afford college and shouldn’t have to pay for convicted criminals to get degrees. So, the initiative’s $2.5 million expense comes from private donors.

Whereas the prison team has also chalked up wins against those from the nationally-ranked University of Vermont and the U.S. Military Academy, the Harvard Crimson were far from mute and graciously commented about their loss: “Three members of the HCDU had the privilege of competing against members of the Bard Prison Initiative’s debate program. 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.”

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