Mississippi University for Women’s newly-formed ethics bowl team is preparing to compete in the Mississippi Ethics Bowl Challenge, beginning Wednesday, Oct. 18.

Jill Drouillard
Jill Drouillard

“Ethan Davis, the assistant director for the Center for Practical Ethics at the University of Mississippi reached out to me regarding the Mississippi Ethics Bowl Challenge and asked if students at The W would like to be involved. We’ve had a growing interest in the Certificate in Applied and Professional Ethics that the philosophy program offers, so I thought students would be excited about starting a team. I placed flyers across campus for recruitment, and I reached out to those students obtaining the certificate,” said Dr. Jill Drouillard, assistant professor of philosophy at The W.

After the recruitment period ended, the team had filled its ranks with five students who are eager to get started. They include: Zarin Raya, Mollie Lyons, Haylei Wilson, Emily Perkins and Karina Alarcon.

“We constantly deal with moral dilemmas throughout our lives. My go-to response to moral dilemmas is to confer with people close to me, so I joined the Ethics Bowl to learn about ethics in general and develop my independence when making decisions. The Ethics Bowl is also a great way for me to learn to be more articulate and understand different perspectives. I look forward to learning more about the ethical issues that surround us and making new friends,” Raya said.

Drouillard and Dr. Josh Dohmen serve as coaches for the team.

Matches are held via Zoom and consist of teams debating ethical dilemmas that are prevalent to today’s world such as banned books, worker’s rights corporate responsibility, freedom of speech, gender identity and disability.

“Each match lasts roughly 90 minutes and consists of two teams debating the outcome of two different case scenarios. Each team will be given an allotted time to present their argument, hear the opposing team’s comments, respond to the opposing team’s commentary and answer a series of questions posed by the judges,” Droulliard said.

The judges will be a panel of philosophy professors, and they will judge the matches based on the same criteria as the Association of Practical and Professional Ethics Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl.

The top performing team will be invited to Oxford to join the UM team in The Great Debate, as well as receive funding to offset the cost.

“This semester we’re ‘getting our feet wet’ by competing in a small statewide debate. We hope to obtain funding so that we are able to travel and compete in regionals,” Droulliard said.

The team not only teaches students how to effectively debate topics, it also teaches them different approaches to everyday conversation.

“I joined the Ethics Bowl team to engage in healthy debates and advocate for ethical approaches to discussion,” Wilson said.

Ultimately, the goal is to make the students more well-rounded when it comes to discourse with people of differing viewpoints, and help facilitate problem solving that involves both sides of the issue.

“While the ethics bowl is called a `competition,’ the most important takeaway from this event is the ability to effectively engage in civil discourse. Students are being asked to consider real world problems that may have several sound and rational solutions. The ethics bowl is a lesson in considering many sides to complicated problems; it is also a lesson in conversing civilly with others who may not share the same opinion. And it’s fun! Each week we practice different case scenarios, and I’ve been really impressed with how students tackle these difficult issues. During practice times, Dr. Dohmen and I provide them with the necessary vocabulary in normative ethical theory to argue their positions more effectively. 

About The W

Located in historic Columbus, Mississippi, The W was founded in 1884 as the first state-supported college for women in the United States. Today, the university is home to 2,227 students in more than 70 majors and concentrations and has educated men for 40 years. The university is nationally recognized for low student debt, diversity and social mobility which empowers students to BE BOLD.

Be Bold. Tower with Blue.