The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

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Ethics team returns from national competition

Is debating something you love to do, or is it something you leave up to politicians and lawyers? A few students at SMU, in fact, enjoy having roundtable debates about ethical dilemmas.

The SMU Ethics team, which is sponsored by the Cary M. Maguire Center for Ethics and Public Responsibility, is an organization comprised of students who enjoy participating in intense debates about ethical problems. The team members are a diverse group of students who extend across a wide range of majors such as psychology, philosophy, environmental science, business and international studies.

“The ethics team has an opportunity to discuss issues that are not usually discussed during other SMU activities,” says Paige Corbly, the president of the Ethics Team. The team meets two hours a week on Wednesdays in a third floor Hughes-Trigg conference room to “discuss cases that often address current ethical issues in society such as war, performance enhancing drugs and genetics,” says Corbly.

The team “provides a great forum for discussion,” says Corbly, who enjoys the opportunity the team gives her to debate her personal opinions with other team members who may have conflicting views.

Christine Breen, a sophomore environmental science and philosophy major and a member of the team for two years, finds attending the weekly meetings is a getaway from the hassle of a busy day. “I love it. I just go to the meetings after a long stressful day to help me relax,” says Breen, who is also the team’s secretary.

The team has competed in regional and national competitions since it became a chartered organization in fall 2003. Unlike most teams from other schools that participate in these competitions, the members of the SMU team are less formal in their approaches, and compete purely because they enjoy the atmosphere surrounding a good debate.

Lydia Butts, a junior majoring in international studies, says, “We are so different than other teams, who are more systematic.” The SMU team discusses the issues in a more laid-back environment.

Most other schools have teams comprised of students enrolled in classes that require them to compete; whereas, the SMU team is a student organization, which has the opportunity to travel to places such as Ohio, North Carolina and most recently San Antonio for competitions.

The team competed in the 2005 National Ethics Bowl Competition on February 24 in San Antonio. The Ethics Bowl is an intercollegiate competition that allows teams of undergraduates to analyze ethical issues.

This year’s national team consisted of five members accompanied by their advisor and a team coach for moral support. After winning against the U.S. Naval Academy and DePauw University, the team was defeated before reaching the quarterfinals.

Six weeks prior to the competition each team receives a list of 15 cases involving problems in applied ethics, and members attempt to develop secure positions on what they believe is each case’s most significant moral issue. Some of the cases concerned the use of Ritalin among college students, pharmacists filling birth control prescriptions and selling religious books at the Grand Canyon.

A moderator presents a case and poses a question about the case to the presenting team. After the team’s 10-minute presentation, the opposing team gives a five-minute response. Then the panel of three judges, typically composed of lawyers, judges, professional philosophers, deans and professors has the chance to pose their own questions to the presenters.

In order to prepare for the competitions and get out of the laid-back environment of their weekly meetings, the team employs the help of SMU faculty and teachers who specialize in the areas that each case concerns. The team also recently had the opportunity to present some of its cases at the Park Cities Rotary Club.

This year’s national team consisted of five members accompanied by their advisor and a team coach for moral support. After winning against the U.S. Naval Academy and DePauw University, the team was eventually defeated before reaching the quarterfinals.

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