By Michael Moore Jr.
Should a professor be allowed to wear blackface at a Halloween party in order to teach her students about cultural appropriation?
This is a question you might hear at the Southeast Regional Ethics Bowl.
The competition took place at the St. Petersburg College EpiCenter on Nov. 4. It consisted of four preliminary rounds and 20 teams, such as New College of Florida, Eckerd College, University of Florida, Auburn, the United States Naval Academy, and the defending regional champions, Rollins College in Winter Park.
The academic competition pits various teams against one another as they analyze cases and build arguments to justify ethical viewpoints via moral theories such as utilitarianism and virtue ethics.
Among the teams were five contestants representing USF St.Petersburg: Marcus Rubenstein, Ryan Magahan, Mary Adams, Tashi Wangmo and Tabitha Quetant.
The team placed 18 out of 20 teams, racking up one win and three losses in the process.
Rubenstein, a 20-year-old junior studying business, had high hopes going into Saturday’s competition.
“This is by far the best team we’ve had,” Rubenstein said.
In the end it was the United States Naval Academy defeating the University of Tampa in the finals to go undefeated.
Leila Davis, an adjunct professor, has coached of the Ethics Bowl team for the last three years. She teaches a class called Practical Ethics that serves as a gateway to prepare students for Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl. Before coming to USF St. Petersburg, she was the coach for Ethics Bowl and debate team at St. Petersburg High School, where she won a national championship in 2013.
Jared Morgenstein was a member of that championship team — now he serves as an unofficial assistant coach, helping students prepare for competition.
On top of the life skills that the competition teaches students, such as the ability to think critically, public speaking and listening to opposing viewpoints, Davis cites students having fun as one of the best aspects of the game.
“Some of the discussions at practice are just hilarious,” Davis says.
Due to the enthusiasm displayed by this year’s team, they went ahead and started a Herdfunder drive to sponsor a potential trip to the national tournament in Chicago, which is set to take place on March 4. The fundraiser, which ended earlier in the week, raised $8,700 of their $10,000 goal, with $5000 coming via David and Lisa Hood of Northwest Mutual.
Since the team did not qualify for nationals, they will use the funds to compete in the International Business Ethics Case competition in Boston in April.
The Ethics Bowl team is sponsored by USF St. Petersburg’s Bishop Center for Ethical Leadership.
Practices are on Tuesdays from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. and Fridays from around 3:30 to 6.
Pictured Above: (From left to right) Marcus Rubenstein, Ryan Magahan, Mary Adams, Tashi Wangmo and Tabitha Quetant.