Students Go to the Mat in Northeast Regional Ethics Bowl
Sitting across from their opponents and trying to out-strategize them while impressing a trio of judges, two teams of five Sacred Heart University students each battled it out in the 2014 Northeast Regional Ethics Bowl (NEREB) competition. The event, which was hosted by SHU for the third consecutive year, took place Saturday, December 6.
In all, teams from 16 schools were entered in the contest. Besides SHU, these included St. Joseph’s, Marist, Seton Hall, Colgate, USMMA, West Point, Notre Dame MD, Buffalo State, Moravian, Manhattan, Villanova, Providence, Franklin Pierce, Tufts and Salisbury.
The event got rolling at 7 a.m., with registration, a continental breakfast, a judges/moderators meeting and opening remarks from Michelle Loris, associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at SHU. Then, the first of three rounds of initial competition got under way at 8:15, with two competing teams pitted against each other in each of eight classrooms. In every scenario, a moderator and three judges were present, and the competing teams were seated at long tables facing each other. In each heat, a coin toss determined which team would go first. After the moderator presented the debate question, the first team had two minutes to prepare an argument, then 10 minutes to present. The other team then had one minute to prepare and five minutes to respond. After a final response from the opening team, the judges were given 10 minutes to ask final questions before scoring each team.
Point accumulations from the three rounds of morning competition determined which top eight teams moved on to the afternoon quarter-finals, which were followed by the semi-finals and finals. The winning team was Marist, with Providence taking second—the reverse of last year’s result.
In one morning battle, SHU’s White Team faced a quintet from the smartly uniformed U.S. Merchant Marine Academy. Judges included SHU faculty members Leanna Lawter and Cara Erdheim, along with William Kilgallen. The moderator was SHU Chemistry Professor Linda Farber, and the question related to nuisance laws applying to people who cohabitate and the code of conduct and behavior they must observe so others around them are not disturbed.
In another faceoff, the SHU Red Team argued against Notre Dame of Maryland, with the session moderated by SHU’s editor and writer, Deb Noack, and judging handled by SHU faculty Caitlin Merritt and Jennifer McLaughlin along with retired actuary Pennell Hamilton. The question debated whether it is acceptable or improper to shame a child in a social media forum for wrongdoing.
Alexandra King, a junior and SHU Red Team member, said about the competition, “It can get pretty heated at times. People have different points of view.”
The team leader of SHU’s Red Team, Stephanie Sorbara, commented on the work to get ready for the competition. “There was a lot of preparation, starting back in September,” she said. “The competition itself is very intense.”
Despite all the hard work involved with the Bowl, Professor June-Ann Greeley, who has coordinated it each of the last three years, said she will miss hosting the event at SHU. Next year the NEREB will move to St. Joseph’s College in New York.
“I thought it would make sense for SHU to host the NEREB since the intention and the orientation of the Ethics Bowl aligns so well with the SHU mission. The bowl asks us to reflect on contemporary issues and events beyond the obvious or literal facts and ostensible significance and dig more deeply into the ethical and moral dimensions and implications of any single occasion or situation,” Greeley said. “The Ethics Bowl project reminds us all to look beyond simple legalities and perfunctory custom towards concepts of virtue and values—something the mission of SHU champions. The Bowl is really not meant to be a competitive sport but, as one national coordinator once explained, ‘an educational and collegial exercise in deep thinking.’ To be able invite our students and students from peer institutions to our campus to meet with each other and discuss the moral implications and ramifications of real-life situations just for the sake of exploring those moral/ethical questions has been an honor and a pleasure indeed.”