From left to right, Haley Shafer, Trinity Wobler, and Taylor Hannam-Zatz take notes during the Midwest regional Ethics Bowl competition. The team’s performance earned Ohio Northern a national bid (Photo credit: Jonathan Spelman)

In a surprise development, Ohio Northern’s ethics bowl club has received a bid to attend the Association for Practical and Professional Ethics (APPE) national conference in March. Originally miscalculated, the team received news of their placement a few days after the Central States regional competition at Marion University in Indianapolis. Ohio Northern brought two teams to the regional competition, placing 4th and 7th. The former, pictured above, received the bid. The national team will be double the size of the team that placed at regionals, with six individuals competing.

The national competition will be held at the Portland Marriott Downtown Waterfront hotel in Portland, Oregon from March 2 through March 5. In addition to a plethora of professional seminars, the intercollegiate ethics bowl national competition will be held, with ONU competing against over thirty other high-achieving colleges from around the nation.

Interestingly, ONU left regionals under the impression that they had not received a national bid; it was only after a re-evaluation of the scores that the team was bumped into 4th place. This made for an exceptionally tense and exciting week for the entire team.

Dr. Jonathan Spelman is a professor of philosophy at ONU, and is the primary faculty advisor of the ethics bowl team. He says he’s “been looking forward to competing at nationals for a while now.” This is the first time the ethics bowl team has received a national bid under Spelman’s leadership. Despite his excitement, Spelman recognizes the amount of work that will be necessary to prepare. 17 cases need to be analyzed and prepared, a task he finds “daunting.” 

Ethics club president Noah Liechty, a junior double majoring in Philosophy and Philosophy, Politics, and Economics (PPE), doesn’t feel as anxious. He says, “I don’t really care about winning.” For Noah, the experience of the ethics bowl is and should be fun; the nature of the event encourages mutually beneficial discussion: “I don’t think the point of debating these topics should be to come out as a winner.” Noah enjoyed regionals and looks forward to having a similar experience at nationals.

To prepare the team for nationals, Dr. Spelman held 6 online discussion sessions over break, and will continue to hold regular meetings until the competition in March. Each case has been assigned to one primary researcher and two secondary researchers. Areas of focus range from free speech to AI courts and invisibility.

Trinity Wobler, senior Criminal Justice major, is one of the competitors who was responsible for securing Ohio Northern’s bid. Despite all the excitement, she appreciates the entire group’s contributions: “We wouldn’t have been able to accomplish what we did without the help of everyone in the ONU Ethics Bowl club.” She looks forward to nationals, saying, “I can’t explain how excited I am to have the chance to represent Ohio Northern at the national competition in the spring.”

By Gabriel Mott

News Editor, Award-Winning Satirical Columnist, Writer

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