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Ethics Bowl Teams Represent VMI Well

cadet wearing mask doing work on a laptop

Cadets Travis Ropella ’23 and Sean Whearty ’22 compete in the Mid-Atlantic Regional Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl Nov. 6.—VMI Photo by Mary Price.

Two teams of cadets competed Friday, Nov. 6 2020, and Saturday, Nov. 7, in the Mid-Atlantic Regional Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl hosted by the University of North Georgia. The competition, which was held in a virtual format this year, challenged participants to respond to a variety of ethical and social issues, including mandatory masks and racial profiling, protests and property destruction, and evictions and foreclosures in the time of COVID-19.

Eighteen teams from 13 schools participated in this year’s competition. Team A, coached by Duncan Richter, Ph.D., professor of philosophy, won two rounds and lost two.

“Our best results ever were won two, lost one, tied one (that was about three years ago),” Richter wrote in an email. “So, for Team A to win two and lose two was our second best-ever result.” Richter added that the judges had very high marks for the professionalism among Team A members and their use of data and examples to bolster their cases.

“It was an absolute pleasure getting to lead both competition teams for the past two months,” Ben Ashmore ’21 wrote in an email. “We are normally at a disadvantage when coming to face the schools in the Mid-Atlantic—due to the amount of time they are able to put into their preparation—but both of our teams competed with a lot of grit and earned their place.”

Ashmore added that the teams were made up of a very diverse group of cadets, including cadet-athletes, regimental cadet captains, and a cadet chaplain. “It was a true joy engaging in pertinent and necessary ethical debate on current hot-topic issues,” he wrote. In addition to Ashmore, cadets competing on Team A were Harris Burton ’23, Parker Davis ’21, Emma Flora ’22, Holly Hein ’23, and Brandon Marks ’23.

“The competition was a fantastic opportunity to put what we have been practicing into action,” said Marks. “It was a great experience. I feel like we learned a lot from seeing how other teams debated and what styles and approaches they used.”

Team B lost all four rounds, although Richter pointed out that members of that team wound up competing against the teams that finished first and second in the competition, Santa Fe College and Meredith College. “They had a very tough draw,” Richter commented.

Ethics Bowl judges praised Team B as well, noting their excellent use of ethical theories to support viewpoints, collegiality, and effective responses to other teams’ objections. Team B was coached by Col. Pat Looney, deputy director of the Center for Leadership and Ethics, and made up of Yavor Aleksiev ’22, Chandler Dodge ’23, LeAndrew Jefferson ’21, Travis Ropella ’23, and Sean Whearty ’22.

  • Mary Price VMI Communications & Marketing