STJ Reaches Quarterfinal at Regional Ethics Bowl

Students from the University competed in the Northeast Regional Ethics Bowl at Union College in Schenectady, NY, on Nov. 12, making it to the quarterfinals.

Five students travelled to the college where they debated on ethical issues, which they had been given in advance. The team finished 7-1-1, defeating teams from Moravian College, Husson University, and Notre Dame. Overall, the team finished sixth out
of 16 participants. The team was eliminated by Villanova University in the quarterfinals.

The team debated on issues such as home schooling, discrimination, and animal rights.

This was the second year students had participated in the Ethics Bowl. Last year, the team finished 0-0-9.

This year’s participants were Daniel Beresheim, Dylan Kitts, Attaul Haq, Lauren Horneffer, and Phillip Sergio. This was the second year Sergio competed in the Bowl.

Professor Paul Gaffney, a philosophy professor, led the team. Gaffney explained that preparation for this year’s performance was through a class, Philosophy 3700: Contemporary Moral Problems. Last year, the team only met outside of the classroom a few times during the semester. Gaffney said the team did not simply consist of the five students who traveled, but all 17 students in the class.

“We practiced for the competition by simulating debate conditions in each class,” he said. “And every student participated in the drafting of bullet points for the individual cases. Many of the points made in the actual competition were originally made in the classroom debates. So all members of the class share in the team success.”

The students had been provided 15 ethical dilemmas to prepare arguments for.

Gaffney said though the team knew and prepared for every case, they did not know which would be selected during each round.

After the topic for each round was  announced during the competition, Gaffney said the team had two minutes to prepare a ten minute argument,
where they were not able to use notes.

Dylan Kitts, who also writes for the Torch, explained how the team prepared in class for the Bowl. Kitts said the students in the class were split into four groups, where they were assigned certain topics.

Each person had to know specifics of the case and lead the argument.

“It was a team effort and at the same time we had our own separate responsibilities,” he said.

Gaffney also emphasized how the classroom preparation contributed to the team’s performance.

“Many of the points made in the actual competition were originally made in the classroom debates,” he said. “So all members of the class share in the team success.”

In the final standings, Dartmouth College finished first. Marist College finish second and Colgate University finished third. Last year, Darmouthhosted the Bowl.

If the St. John’s team had won, Kitts said, they would have qualified for the national championship.

“We hope to continue to build on the success of the first two years,” Gaffney said.