Posted on December 17, 2009
Faculty and Staff
It was not your average college debate.
This one was held inside Old Colony Correctional Center, a medium-security prison in Bridgewater, and featured a team of BSC students testing their knowledge and rhetorical skills against prisoners.
All was quiet in the gymnasium as the final guests took their seats and the moderator explained the rules of the debate. This year's debate question was: How could $5 million dollars of federal stimulus money be most effectively invested toward crime reduction in the state of Massachusetts?
The students argued for investing the money in the community while the men argued for investing the money in prison programming.
There were compelling arguments on both sides, and plenty of cheers for each team. While the judges declared the OCCC men from Toastmasters the winners, everyone was deemed by organizers as a winner that day.
"What made this day momentous was witnessing how people from different communities can share a vision and work together in ways that foster hope and bring about transformation," said Dr. Jo-Ann Della Giustina
, an assistant professor of criminal justice at BSC, who worked with prison officials to organize the event.
This was the second such debate for the students, who are involved with Toastmasters, an international organization devoted to developing public speaking skills. The BSC students involved were Donna Molloy
, Stephanie Alves
, Jill Preston
, Kelly Lafontaine
, and Brian Kennedy
The first debate was held last April as part of Dr. Della Giustina's Restorative Justice class. That team included Dan Campbell
, Nicholas Zinni
, Kerry Wells
, Adam Foss
, Nate Carlson
, and Andrew Patota
Almost three years ago volunteers from BSC, along with Dr. Della Giustina began participating in the prison's weekend Alternatives to Violence Project workshops. She then expanded the service learning opportunities to include a speakers series involving criminal justice students. It is from these endeavors that the idea for a debates emerged.
Several officials were on hand for the recent debate, including Massachusetts Department of Correction Commissioner Harold W. Clarke
; Mary Elizabeth Heffernan
, Undersecretary of Criminal Justice, Executive Office of Public Safety and Security (representing Gov. Deval Patrick
's office); DOC senior management; OCCC staff and administration; BSC Acting Dean Rita Miller
; as well as 150 prisoners.
Photo caption: (Left to right): Acting Dean Rita Miller, BSC Director of Community and College Partnerships Susan McCombe, Brian Kennedy, Kelly Lafontaine, Jillian Preston, Undersecretary Heffernan, Commissioner Harold W. Clarke, Stephanie Alves, Dr. Jo-Ann Della Giustina and Donna Molloy.