The Whitman Ethics Bowl team returned from Nationals in Dallas last week with the “Spirit of Ethics Bowl” award. It was the second consecutive year that the burgeoning group has won the award, which goes to the team that, through civility and thoughtfulness, best exemplifies the spirit of the Ethics Bowl.
“Our team cares much more about having engaging and interesting discussions than about ‘winning’ rounds and/or getting first place,” said senior team-member Gillian Gray in an email. “So when we received the spirit award … we were very excited and extremely honored. It represents everything that we strive for when we participate, and it feels great to be recognized for that.”
The award is determined by a vote by other teams.
Sophomore Erick Franklund, who was on the national team last year as well, said that the Spirit Award “goes to team that best exemplifies what Ethics Bowl is … The team that wins it is usually very friendly. Other teams like them and that’s how they win it, and so I’m really glad we’re on a team that is liked.”
Ethics Bowl is similar to debate, but the end lies not in argumentation, but rather consensus on an ethical issue. Often these are topical or real-world problems. For example, Franklund said that the Whitman team faced off against Villanova to determine whether or not Kenya’s policy of symbolically burning seized Ivory from elephant poachers was ethical (they determined that it was).
The Whitman Ethics Bowl team has developed significantly over the past few years, from what Gray described as an “informal, ragtag group of people who were interested in ethics and had no real idea of what an Ethics Bowl was to a fairly formal, rigorous and distinguished team.”
Last year the team won the regional Ethics Bowl at Seattle Pacific University, which Gray described as a “shock,” and “one of the greatest days of [her] college career.” It was a far cry from the year previous, in which Gray wrote that the fledgling team “didn’t understand how the whole thing was going to go until we got there.”
This year, the team came in second place in regionals, and so was again able to attend Nationals.
Nationals attendees were Franklund, Gray, Mira Skladany, Josh Ward, Lauren Wilson, Peggy Li (of The Wire) and Philosophy Professor Patrick Frierson, who is the coach.