TLU Ethics Bowl Team Receives Bid to Nationals in Washington, DC.

November 17, 2015

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A second-place win at the Texas Regional Ethics Bowl is sending the Texas Lutheran University team to the 2016 national intercollegiate competition in Washington, DC this February.

The regional event—an annual event hosted by St. Mary’s University—allows teams from different colleges to compete in a debate-like style over ethically provocative cases. The five-member TLU team, including Jaime Scherbeh, Thomas Holstein, Michael Flynn, Mason Allenger, and Haley Czarnek, were presented with a range of topics allowing them to explore new ideas on issues or events that are currently relevant.

Teams aren’t aware of the case they will be presenting in any given round, nor do they know what questions will be asked. Once a topic is assigned to a team, the members have two minutes to prepare a ten-minute presentation on a question they may or may not have anticipated at all.

Senior Haley Czarnek dedicated much of her time to debate team in high school. Being part of the TLU Ethics Bowl Team is a different and unique experience where she utilizes that skill set.

“Even with a lot of debate experience, ethics bowl is very different from anything I’ve experienced before,” Czarnek, a senior double major in philosophy and communications studies, said. “There are five of us and that necessitates a lot of cooperation. You don't necessarily have to disagree with the other team; you merely have to try to best evaluate the ethical implications and explain them with the most clarity and depth. It's a frenetic, flying by the seat of your pants kind of event, and it requires a lot of teamwork. Fortunately, we all worked spectacularly well together and it was fantastic.”

Czarnek gave the response for her favorite case presentation that asked the team to debate whether or not egg freezing is a benefit for female employees. While the other team answered yes, selecting ethical theories that have historically excluded women, Czarnek took a different approach.

“Although this sounds like a neat perk, some companies have implied that it's a way to get women to do their ‘best work’ by delaying motherhood, because they see children as a distraction for women, and the medical community doesn't endorse the procedure,” Czarnek said. “The competing team used virtue ethics which once held that women cannot be ethical and overlooked a lot of the coercive nature of the egg-freezing ‘benefit.’ I was able to suggest that feminist ethics would be a better way to evaluate whether or not the procedure was fair, and that while I agreed that presenting women with multiple options is a good thing, our society is not currently in a place to be able to offer this procedure non-coercively.”

Other cases during the regional competition ranged from whether or not composting corpses is a morally acceptable practice to whether or not museums should buy artifacts from terrorist organizations like ISIS.

With DC only three months away, Czarnek eagerly awaits the team’s next chance to represent TLU.

“Debate is a very pure kind of learning to me,” Czarnek said. “I do best in discussion classes where I can throw out an idea, hear how it sounds, and how others respond to it. Debate is an extreme version of that and I've always loved it.”

Pictured left to right: Students Jaime Scherbeh, Thomas Holstein, Michael Flynn, Mason Allenger, and Haley Czarnek.

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