Ethics Bowl team advances to the nationals competition

Farah Bassyouni, News Editor

Credit: Erin Burnison 

(Left to right) MJ Soria, Liam Killian, Jonas Maes, Anjali Malali, Hailey Menese, Sage Shindler

The Illinois Wesleyan Ethics Bowl team finished in second place at the Upper Midwest Regional Competition on Nov. 12 in Schaumburg, Illinois. The team will advance to compete at the National Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl in Portland this spring.

“Everybody in the Midwest region gets a list of 15 cases that talk about a certain thing that’s going on,” sophomore MJ Soria said. 

Among the topics the IWU team received were Elon Musk’s recent purchase of Twitter and how that affects free speech as well as animals’ legal rights pertaining to an elephant being held in isolation in Bronx Zoo. 

“We have to come up with a position about certain cases. For the Twitter one, we focused on how free speech works in social media, and whether platforms should promote free speech,” Soria said. 

Ethics Bowl is an annual competitive intercollegiate ethics debate tournament organized by the Association for Practical and Professional Ethics (APPE). Besides being a club students can join at IWU, it’s also offered as a class students can also get credit for. 

The team meets every Tuesday and Thursday from 6:15 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. They split into two opposing teams. Just like in the competition, one team is given 10 minutes to present an answer to an ethical question, and the other team has five minutes to come up with objections. They can then either address the objections, or object to the objection. Teams also answer the judge’s questions at the end of the round. 

“We competed against other universities. After the rounds, the judges score the teams and whoever has more points wins,” Soria said. 

IWU had two teams, with three members on each team. One of the teams got second and they qualified for nationals. 

“We split up because a lot of it is based on luck, like what the question is and who your judge is, so we thought our chances would be better if we split up,” Soria said. 

IWU needed every strategic advantage, as the format of the competition “might have biases towards the teams from prominent schools,” Liam Killian said. “I think that the teams should not announce where they are from,” 

The team was established in 2011 and is supervised by Professor Andrew Engen. IWU has qualified for nationals at least five times in the past 10 years, and are notoriously successful underdogs as they go head-to-head with large state schools and Ivy Leagues. 

“I was super nervous because I had to think on the spot, but we pulled through and won,” Anjali Malali, the only first-year on the team, said. 

The National Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl  Competition will be held in Portland, Oregon, in March 2023.