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VMI Ethics Team Competes in National Competition

Ethics team sitting around a coffee table talking

VMI Ethics Team members, Cadets Gabriele Woodward ’24, Riley Malone ’25, Harris Burton ’23, and Riley Schultz ’24, discuss strategy with Duncan Richter, Ph.D., their coach.—Photo courtesy Association for Professional and Practical Ethics.

The VMI Ethics Team recently competed at the Association for Professional and Practical Ethics Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl National Championship held in Portland, Oregon. The team qualified for the event by placing fourth in the Mid-Atlantic Regional Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl Competition in November 2022.

Members of the team who traveled to Portland included Cadets Harris Burton’23, Riley Shultz ’24, Gabriele Woodward ’24, and Riley Malone ’25. They were sponsored by the Center for Leadership and Ethics and coached by Duncan Richter, Ph.D., Charles S. Luck III ’55 Institute Professor in the Department of English, Rhetoric, and Humanistic Studies.

The two-day, multi-institutional collegiate competition included 36 teams. During the preliminary round, VMI scored three wins, beating teams from the U.S. Military Academy, Rollins College, and the College of William & Mary. Advancing to the quarterfinal round, VMI competed against the U.S. Naval Academy, which narrowly defeated them by two points and went on to win the championship.

According to Richter, the scores of every round were close. “VMI made it to the last eight in the nation and lost only to last year’s champions, which was the team from Macalester College in Saint Paul, Minnesota, and this year’s champions, USNA,” Richter said.

A few of the questions posed to the VMI team to discuss were as follows: Is it morally permissible for the panda to be the poster child for the World Wildlife Fund? Is providing medical screening for persons who likely cannot afford to treat their conditions morally permissible? What moral obligation, if any, do private universities have to promote free speech on their campuses? Do free speech zones actually serve this purpose?

Burton, the cadet in charge, said, “We had an excellent time discussing a variety of complex issues such as bioethics, social issues, and challenges facing our legal system with accomplished students from across the country.”

The team’s next competition will be the Military Ethics Case Competition held at the USNA in Annapolis, Maryland, in April.

  • Marianne Hause VMI Communications & Marketing