News & Notes

April Update

April 1, 2017

After the excitement of March’s debate between the classes, volunteers introduced a new 14 week curriculum to help students build their debate skills from the ground up. Over the first month of the curriculum, students discussed lessons starting from “How to Build an Argument” to using A-R-E method, clash, and how to see through the eyes of a judge.

Towards the end of the month, we launched our third class at Rikers Island at the Eric M. Taylor Center - a facility which houses sentenced male adults and adolescents. The class immediately proved to be a hit, and got off to a running start discussing, what else, Trump’s immigration policy.

March Update

March 1, 2017

March was an exciting month for RDP, as we hosted our second public debate on President Trump’s immigration policies. The debate was held between two students from our female-only class at the Rose M. Singer Center and two students from our male-only classs George R. Vierno Center. The students went head to head debating the validity and ethics of the executive orders issues on immigration.

Special guest Samantha Bee helped judge, filming the debate for a segment on her show. Both teams were impressive as they discussed the intricacies and implications of the ban, but in the end the students from Rose M. Singer won the debate with their argument against the executive orders.

February Update

February 1, 2017

During this month the executive orders enacted via the new administration were put under a microscope by the students. Specifically, the debate on immigration provided the class with a lot to think about. Considering the leaps and bounds by which students have improved their skills, a public debate between GRVC and RMSC will be proposed sometime in the near future.

With the success of the GRVC and RMSC programs, the DOC has been broached with expanding the class to the Eric M. Taylor Center (EMTC). A 14 week module is being drafted, and will allow for easier implementation of new programs.

January Update

January 1, 2017

To kick off the New Year the topics chosen for debate bent towards the more abstract. Topics such as “Does God Exist?” and “Which Superpower is the Best?” were explored, challenging students and volunteers alike! Argument structure and refuting the opponent’s points were pushed as deciding factors when judging a debate. The students took these concepts to heart, incorporating numbering points and clash into their rounds.

The students continue to impress as they find ways to suss out the subtleties in arguments made during class. The use of Occam’s razor for both the government and the opposition during the “Does God Exist?” debate illustrates just how creative the students can be!

December Update

December 17, 2016

In the past six months, the Rikers Debate Project has grown to a devoted community of nearly fifty members, with more than a dozen volunteers and several dozen students in classes at two different correctional facilities. By teaching political expression and critical thinking to a community our society has largely left behind, we have clearly managed to capture something important and vital.

We, is hosting a party last Friday to celebrate our new debate class for female inmates at the Rose M Singer Center (RMSC) and also to make new connections with other organizations working in the fields of criminal justice reform and reentry.

November Update

November 29, 2016

We hope that you are enjoying the start of the holiday season. At the RikersDebate Project, we continue to teach competitive debate classes weekly to students living on Rikers Island Prison. Our organizations grows and thrives thanks to your support; thank you!

#GivingTuesday - Support Rikers Debate Project Today is Giving Tuesday, a global day of giving. Now more than ever is the time to support teaching students at Rikers Island the skills of competitive debate. Your contribution helps our organization grow and expand at a critical time. You can donate here; donations to the Rikers Debate Project are tax deductible.

Join us for the Rikers Debate Project Holiday Fundraiser on December 16!

Join us on Friday, December 16 from 7:00pm - 11:00pm at the Ten Degrees Bar (121 St. Marks Place) for our holiday fundraiser. Please bring along friends and colleagues. Please come support our program, meet the passionate volunteers who make it possible, and learn how to get involved! You can find more information here.

Launching Debate Classes for Women on Rikers Island

We want to celebrate the launch of our second debate class, at the Rose M. Singer for Women on Rikers Island! The first women’s classes will begin this Saturday, December 3, and will continue weekly thereafter. We are excited to teach the skills of debate to these new students!

Thank you for your ongoing support of the Rikers Debate Project. We are deeply appreciative. Warmest wishes for your holidays, and we hope to see you soon.