The OCU Ethics Bowl team recently placed third in the Texas Regional Ethics Bowl and will advance to the national competition in Chicago in March.
The Ethics Bowl is a competition in which students debate ethical cases covering a wide range of disciplines, including law, medicine, political science, and journalism.
James Guzak, management professor, and Justin Wareham, management professor, are the faculty coaches for the team. Wareham said the team meets weekly to practice for the competitions.
“Usually during our meetings, we’ll focus on a particular case and just try to get all the ideas, any perspectives anyone might have or current news articles or research that students have found and just discuss. We try to play devil’s advocate, so we are getting all the ideas on the table, because once we take a position, we also have to consider the opposite position to prepare,” he said.
At the end of August, the team received a set of ethical cases from the Association of Applied and Practical Ethics, the organizing body of the Ethics Bowl competition.
“We receive a packet of about a dozen cases that are one to two-page descriptions of various ethical dilemmas in modern society. When we get those cases, we meet as a team and start to decide who is interested in which case, and then each team member is responsible for developing the team’s position on the case,” Wareham said.
Wareham said he and Guzak let the individual member who is leading the case decide which theory he or she wants to apply to the case, and the team supports their decision.
The team competed in the Oklahoma State Ethic Bowl in October and attended the Texas Regional Ethics Bowl in November. They competed against 28 teams from universities in Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Arkansas, and Louisiana. The top four teams in the regional bowl advanced to the National Competition.
In each round of the competition, a team has ten minutes to present their case, the opposite team has five minutes to present a commentary and the presenting team then has five minutes for a rebuttal. A panel of three judges has ten minutes to ask the team questions about the case and the team’s presentation. Judges award points based on several criteria, such as presentation and consideration of opposing viewpoints.
Luke Barrettt, acting freshman, said ethics bowl is similar to speech and debate because the teams present different viewpoints on controversial and topical issues, but it is centered more on the discussion on these issues.
“It’s not supposed to be this brutal, competitive thing. Really, it’s supposed to be a discussion about it—not a debate, not a right or wrong, it’s just talking about the different ways we can look at it and what the best answer might be,” Barrett said.
Barrett said when the team goes to the competition, they like to get to know the other team before the competition starts.
“It’s nice to be able to meet the other team and be like ‘hi, yes, you’re a human, I’m a human, we’re not just robots fighting each other,’” Barrett.
Barret said his case was the first to be selected and focused on intersex athletes competing in the Olympics and the different tests that have been required for female athletes. Two female athletes recently came under scrutiny for appearing to be “too masculine” and were accused of using testosterone drugs.
“Our argument was that these athletes still have rights and they should be allowed to compete just the same as anyone else, no matter what. And in the end, that’s what the Olympic committee decided—that testosterone has no definitive advantage for athletes,” Barrett said.
Barrett was invited by a friend to join the team this year and said he has had a very positive experience.
“It’s been really great. Plus, I’m an acting major, so I don’t always get to discuss super serious things like this, so it’s kind of refreshing. Everyone is so nice,” Barrett said.
Chris Johnston, finance junior, said he joined the ethics bowl team as an extracurricular when he started school after eight years in the military.
“I didn’t know much about ethics until I tried it. Now I love it, and I love what it stands for. I love mentoring from my military days. I think ethics is something valuable to understand, not just for business, but for life in general,” Johnston said.
Wareham said OCU has had a team for over five years, and this is the strongest team he has seen since he has been a coach.
“We have very engaged students that are really passionate about ethics,” he said. “We are actually doing really well on a regional and a national level. We are starting to become more and more competitive.”
Wareham said the team starts recruiting in August, and any student from any discipline is welcome to join.
“It really does change the way you think about the world because it forces you to see how people can disagree with you and that ethics isn’t really a right or wrong thing, it’s a personal set of values of beliefs. It’s very energizing to see,” he said.
Nora Gnabasik, marketing major, said the team will begin fundraising soon for the National Competition in Chicago.
Students interested in joining can contact Wareham at firstname.lastname@example.org, James Guzak at email@example.com or any current member.