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Union team headed to national Ethics Bowl meet


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Union College Ethics Bowl team
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The Union College Ethics Bowl team finished second among the 25 teams that competed in the Northeast Regional Ethics Bowl competition at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Conn.,  Saturday, putting it in contention for the upcoming national championship in Florida.

Seven Union students went head to head against their peers from such schools as Colgate University, Manhattan College, Marist, Providence College, the University of Baltimore, Villanova, West Point and Williams.

“Our students worked really hard and performed exceptionally, winning five of the six rounds,” said Krisanna Scheiter, assistant professor of philosophy and the team’s adviser. “They represented Union very well.”

Modeled after the 1960s-era TV “College Bowl,” the rigorous academic tournament provides a forum for student teams to examine and debate laws and ethics governing society. They contemplate moral and ethical dilemmas that raise a variety of complex contemporary issues in diverse fields.

“Ethics Bowl is an incredible opportunity to think critically, exercise public speaking skills, and meet other interested and engaged students,” said Remy Ravitzka ’15, a philosophy major. “Our fantastic teamwork was undeniably the key to our success in this tournament. So much of each round is determined by our ability to rely on one another.”
 
The other competitors, and their majors, are Raashika Goyal ’16 (biology and philosophy); Trevor Martin ’14 (philosophy and Spanish); Parth Visrodia ’16 (biology and economics); Alexandra Walters ’15 (political science); Dima Yankova ’16 (mechanical engineering); and Matt Wu ’17 (biology and philosophy).

Team members who helped prepare cases but were not able to compete this year include Chelsea Mickel ’15 (political science and Russian); Melissa Moskowitz ’14 (ID, political science and women’s and gender studies) and Mihir Patel ’16 (biology and economics). 

Erika Wells, visiting assistant professor of psychology, also coached the team.
 
“Having a great Ethics Bowl experience has been one of my favorite things about Union,” said Martin. “Our faculty advisors and administrators could not have been more helpful, supportive and knowledgeable during our prep process. We could not have done it without them.”

Among the cases the teams explored were the ethics of sweatshops in Bangladesh, the criminalization of HIV/AIDS and the obligation of the governmental bodies to bury criminals or terrorists.

“The difficulty in each case is varied, but every case required deeper analysis and reevaluation of our initial opinions on the issue,” Ravitzka noted. “In some of the cases, we ended up taking a stance that far differed from what we had initially believed.”

Union participated in its first Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl in 2003 and quickly distinguished itself as a top contender. The team is sponsored by the Philosophy Department and funded by the Internal Education Fund, and the offices of the Dean of Studies and the Dean of Academic Departments. Faculty members from the Philosophy Department as well as a cross-section of campus provide their unique perspectives and insight.

Union will join 31 other teams from the U.S. and Canada to compete at the Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl National Championship in Jacksonville Feb. 27. The competition is held in conjunction with the annual meeting of the Association for Practical and Professional Ethics.