A classroom discussion on the death penalty turned violent last week at Saint Mary’s University in Winona.
A 19-year-old woman was charged with misdemeanor assault for allegedly punching a fellow student over remarks he made in their seminar, Portraits of the Virtuous Life.
According to Winona police, Martha Eleanor Walters was upset during the Jan. 24 class when her professor questioned whether attorneys could promote injustice by defending criminals.
Walters said both her parents were attorneys, and she was offended by the comment. The professor apologized, and the class proceeded.
When the discussion turned to the death penalty, a male student said he was for capital punishment because the public shouldn’t have to pay to keep convicted killers in prison.
Walters said death penalty cases cost even more money, and the other student replied that lawyers were to blame.
The student said Walters then punched him in the face before their professor intervened, according to police.
The seminar, part of the Catholic university’s core requirements, is designed to explore “themes of identity and the relationship between self and community by moving beyond the experience of the self to focus on various historical and contemporary portraits of the virtuous life,” according to Saint Mary’s catalog. La Crosse Tribune