Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 10
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

New Quiz Bowl team challenges, loses to profs

It was five minutes before the competition was scheduled to begin and people streamed into the room to watch Whitman students compete against faculty in a test of knowledge. However, while three faculty were scheduled to come, only two, Professor of Geology and Environmental Studies Robert Carson and Professor of Physics Emeritus Craig Gunsul, arrived. Carson consequentially recruited his wife, Associate Dean of Students Clare Carson, who had only planned on watching. More people crammed into the large room upstairs in Maxey Hall. Eventually, chairs ran out and latecomers had to sit on the floor.

The people were there to watch Whitman’s new Quiz Bowl team compete against faculty as one of the activities for Family Weekend in October. Each team tried to answer the questions, which ranged in topic from history to pop culture to science, before the other team, and in many cases before the announcer had finished reading the question.

“My favorite thing in Quiz Bowl, or any game show, is trying get the answer before they finish the question,” said Carson.

The faculty won, having held a strong lead throughout most of the competition.

“I think the students had a real disadvantage because the faculty are the people who make up those questions,” said Gunsul.

The team, which was organized last spring but was only recognized by the school this fall, has attended one competition besides the exhibition with the faculty, where it tied for fourth among six teams. The Competition took place at Gonzaga University and five other colleges and universities, including University of Washington, attended.

At Quiz Bowl tournaments, individual teams can contain up to four students, though they may have as few as one person. Schools can send as many teams as they can fill. Whitman sent one three-person team to the fall competition.

Ian Williams, sophomore and founder of the team, wanted to do a faculty-student competition because his high school team held a similar event against their teachers, which usually ended in a win for the student team.

“We’re planning on attending more competitions in the spring and maybe even hosting a regional competition,” said Williams.

Williams and junior Jonathan Spatola-Knoll, another core team member, both competed in Quiz Bowl in high school.

According to Williams, the current Quiz Bowl team consists of four core members who show up frequently and and a few other members who show up periodically. None of the core members, and only one of the other members, is female. This gender discrepancy is more or less endemic to the Quiz Bowl program as a whole.

The Quiz Bowl team replaced the College Bowl team that disbanded some years ago and used College Bowl questions for the faculty-student competition to increase the entertainment value of the debate.

“The questions used at tournaments are really specific and really hard, so I think if we’d used those the teachers would have answered five questions and we would have gotten three,” said Spatola-Knoll.

Whitman’s Quiz Bowl team is less competitive than others in the sport, preferring to keep the focus on fun. Spatola-Knoll said some teams would go through hundreds of questions in a practice session, while Whitman usually only goes through 20.

“There’s definitely stuff we could do if we wanted to be really competitive,” said Williams.

The team is still accepting new members. They meet at 8 p.m. on Mondays in Reid 207.

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