Ripon College Ethics Bowl Team qualifies for national competition

The Ripon College Ethics Bowl team has qualified for the National Ethics Bowl Competition after placing fifth at the Upper Midwest Regional Ethics Bowl Competition Saturday, Nov. 11. The regional competition was hosted at the University of Chicago with 22 teams participating. The National Ethics Bowl Competition will be held in Cincinnati, Ohio, in February 2024. This will be the first time since 2017 that the Ripon team will compete at the national competition.

This year’s team members are Lili Alderson ’24 of Ripon, Wisconsin, Jake Hargrave ’25 of Markesan, Wisconsin, Emily Karvala ’24 of Iron Ridge, Wisconsin, Sidney McNatt ’26 of Vista, California, Cally Stannard ’24 of Hartland, Wisconsin, and Zoe Stephanie ’27 of Comstock, Wisconsin. The team is coached by Paul Jeffries, Associate Professor of Philosophy and chair of the Department of Philosophy and Religion.

Ethics Bowl competitions are organized each year by the Association of Practical and Professional Ethics. There are four rounds in which two teams each answer a question posed about one of several ethical cases students study ahead of time. The opposing team gets to give a response to the proposed answer based on the ethical reasoning used by the presenting team’s answer and then the presenting teams have to answer questions posed by the round’s judges.

The rounds are decided by who presents the best ethical analysis in relation to the answers and responses put forth by each team. Judges included lawyers, judges, professors, health care professionals, and corporate compliance officers.

Ripon tied their first round against the University of Chicago and then won their next three rounds. They defeated Triton College, Grand Valley State University and Northeastern Illinois State University. Topics included banning books in public schools and museum ethics related to a benefactor’s will; the ethics of creating true crime shows and the morality of funding space exploration; whether universities can terminate faculty whose classes are considered too academically demanding and whether parents should have sole responsibility in their children’s work practices; and using artificial intelligence to decide medical claims and whether it is appropriate to allow people with Down Syndrome to perform in drag shows.

“What is particularly noteworthy about the team’s accomplishment is that four members were at their first-ever ethics bowl competition and the other two members were at only their second competition,” Jeffries says. “For such a relatively new set of competitors to have such success is impressive.”

The three other regional teams that qualified for nationals are from the University of Chicago, Carleton College and Vanderbilt University, with two teams in the top four but only one advancing.

(Photo, left to right: Paul Jeffries, Cally Stannard ’24, Sidney McNatt ’26, Jake Hargrave ’25, Lili Alderson ’24, Zoe Stephanie ’27 and Emily Karvala ’24.)

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