Professors debate whether a full-face veil harms women

November 12, 2012

Debate and civil discourse have long been encouraged on college campuses.

On Thursday, Nov. 29, four College of Saint Benedict and Saint John's University professors will take center stage for a "Pennies for Your Thoughts" debate to discuss the claim that the full-face veil harms women. The event begins at 7:30 p.m. at Gorecki Family Theater in the Benedicta Arts Center of the College of Saint Benedict and is free and open to the public.

The debate has a unique format. Audience members will be given two pennies when they arrive. At the beginning of the debate, they will be asked to vote with one of their pennies about the claim, "The full-face veil harms women."  At the end of the debate, the audience will vote again with the second penny.  The winning side will be determined by the amount of shift that occurs from one side to the other.

Noreen Herzfeld, professor of computer science and theology, and Christi Siver, assistant professor of political science, will defend the claim and Madhu Mitra, professor of English, and Vincent Smiles, professor of theology, will speak against it. 

"We feel this is a good debate for a women's college to host. It will certainly give the audience some food for thought, and folks will get to put in their two cents on the issue," said Anthony Cunningham, moderator of the event, professor of philosophy and director of the CSB/SJU Honors Program.

The event is sponsored by the CSB/SJU Honors Program, the CSB/SJU Philosophy Department and the Eugene J. McCarthy Center for Public Policy and Civic Engagement at Saint John's University.