Where can you find Chestnut Hill College and Temple University facing off in head-to-head competition?
Why, the debate stage of course, which is what happened when Jeffrey Carroll, Ph.D., assistant professor of political science, brought a group of CHC students to the mayor’s reception room in City Hall for an informative and substantive debate with students from Temple University.
CHC students joined former Philadelphia Mayor John Street’s class on state and local politics to debate two issues currently garnering a lot of local attention: the benefit of charter schools and the selling of the city’s municipal assets.
Carroll’s class opposed charter schools and took the pro position on selling off assets.
“I had worked with Mayor Street as his teaching assistant at Temple for several years and we have remained friends,” says Carroll. “So when he contacted me asking if we could get our students together to do an activity that would be meaningful and memorable, I, of course, jumped at the opportunity.”
Leading up to the debate, Carroll reviewed the topics and possible positions, divided the class and had the students conduct research and formulate talking points. In practice sessions, Carroll served as the devil’s advocate, presenting arguments that the other side likely would bring up during the actual debate.
“The students were incredibly invested and really took the exercise seriously,” says Carroll. “On debate day, that all showed, all of that preparation, because they did a fantastic job, hitting all of the poignant examples and making a strong case for their argument. I was unbelievably proud of them.”
In addition to having the opportunity to engage in a “war of wits,” as Carroll calls it, with the students from Temple, the day also allowed the CHC students to visit City Hall and interact with Mayor Jim Kenney.
“It’s such a huge benefit to learn theory in the classroom and then actually go out and have these experiential exercises,” says Carroll. “These are the experiences students are going to remember.”
Carroll and Mayor Street are already planning future activities. According to Carroll, they are committed to doing at least one per semester.
“I told him that this can’t just be a one-off and he agreed,” Carroll says. “Given his position and access to City Hall as well as speakers and much more, there are numerous possibilities of what we can do with this partnership. I’m just looking forward to exploring it.”
— Marilee Gallagher ’14 and Christopher Sivel ’18