Ethical dilemmas, for most, are situations people try to avoid. For East’s Ethics Bowl team, however, this is not the case. The eight-person club, coached by Dan Murphy and Lisa Ibarra, have proven themselves masters of competitive problem-solving on the ethical level, and after winning a state title Jan. 27, competed in the national competition April 5-7 at UNC-Chapel Hill.
Teams like East’s and others nationwide participate in Ethics Bowl by reviewing cases of ethical scenarios and debating their decided stance against an opposing team in the competition. Understanding the given cases means knowing specific moral ideas and applying different stances to one given, hypothetical story.
In anticipation of nationals, the team practiced seven times a week, inside and outside of school, in order to prepare. Nationals is a very different game than states: higher stakes and higher intensity.
“[With states] you have good teams, good clubs, but it’s generally pretty student-focused,” said co-leader Lily Wuerth. “Once you get to nationals, you realize that it’s different.”
The community, friendly feel went away when the team got to the big leagues.
“[NC Ethics Bowl] is really ground-zero, so they really stress that it’s about students and it’s about collaboration and it’s about the ideas and not the competition,” said Wuerth. “I think that that’s pretty well-preserved in North Carolina, but once you get to states like New York and California, you get a different feel.”
Members of the ethics team said they were a small, tight-linked group.
“The main thing about it, throughout the entire time,” said Wuerth, “was that we had a group of like-minded people who could goof off together pretty seamlessly.”
“One day we had, I’d like to say, six hours in a row of high-tension debating,” said Wuerth. “It’s a lot of energy, a lot of time.”
With nationals around the corner, the team practiced three times during school, three times after school and once on the weekend in order to prepare.
“Generally to develop our positions we will just argue with each other,” said co-leader Ben Jia.
The members debate with each other to form solid positions, then dive into practice rounds and individual presentations to strengthen arguments.
“It’s always high tension, even if the other team isn’t that good,” said Wuerth. “For me, it’s very tiring.”
Students said the team is collaborative and shows diverse thought processes, a unique and advantageous trait.
“We have a dynamic where everyone challenges everyone else,” said Wuerth. “It definitely looks good in competitions to have a more open group.”
By Zoe Hiemstra and Sophie Clapacs, Satire Editor and Multimedia Editor