“You did this in the belief that you would avoid giving an account of your life, but I maintain quite the opposite will happen to you. There will be more people to test you. . . and they will be more difficult to deal with as they will be younger. . .”

— Socrates to the City of Athens after he is sentenced to death for corrupting the youth by encouraging them to ask questions (Apology, 39c)

Welcome to the Forum. Each year, for a month, the campus turns its attention to a social issue. We choose a topic, and invite speakers to present opposing points of view, but in the end, the students have the last word.

Theme: The Death Penalty, Past and Present

Banner: Our History

  • Stuart Banner, Professor of Law, UCLA
  • The Death Penalty, Past and Present
  • Kilpatrick, 11-11:50a, Friday, Feb 4.

We cannot understand the present without understanding the past. To understand today’s death penalty, we must understand the people, decisions and cultural movements behind it. Legal historian Stuart Banner, author of The Death Penalty: an American History, will share with us his research on the different cultural movements that shaped America’s unique approach to the death penalty. (Read a review of Banner’s book The Death Penalty: An American History.)

Holland-Walker Debate

  • Hugo Holland, Section Chief, Caddo District Attorney Homicide and Sex Crimes Investigations Section
  • Henry Walker, Past President of the State Criminal Defense Bar
  • 7-8p, Anderson Auditorium, Thursday, Feb 10.

Justice is a complex concept, one that often shifts as you change perspectives. Our criminal justice system is supposed to advance justice for all those involved in a crime, sometimes using the death penalty to do so. But is condemning someone to death just? For the second meeting of the Forum, we have arranged a debate between two legal professionals who must struggle with the death penalty regularly. Henry Walker will be arguing that the death penalty is unjust. Hugo Holland takes the opposite view, and will argue that morality supports the death penalty for the worst criminals.

Student Responses: Our Future

  • In Favor:
    • Timothy Vance, Geology
    • Leanne LaCaze, Political Science
  • Against:
    • Devin Rourke, Philosophy and Business
    • James King, Political Science
  • Kilpatrick, 11-noon, Thursday, Feb 24.

‘Why?’ is a young person’s question and so we end the Forum with student responses. Does the death penalty serve a useful purpose in modern society or is it a relic of a less civilized past? Does the death penalty express our worst impulses to hatred, revenge and violence or is it a necessary part of doing justice to both criminals and victims? Attend the final meeting of the Forum to find out what the next generation thinks.

(Comments from our students will be published in the Conglomerate and the Shreveport Times prior to this meeting.)


Teaching Resources