SMWC Ethics Bowl team finishes another great year

March 17th, 2017 | SMWC

SMWC Ethics Bowl Team
The SMWC Ethics Bowl team. (Left to right) Jacqueline Peterschmidt, Dagny Gargas, Allison Mauk and Mannah Mace.

The competition was fierce, one that required intelligence, logic, confidence, and public speaking skills, and four promising Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College (SMWC) students rose to the challenge.

SMWC Ethics Bowl team members Jacqueline Peterschmidt, Dagny Gargas, Mannah Mace and Allison Mauk joined hundreds of representatives of 36 other U.S. and Canadian teams on Feb. 26 in the 21st Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl national competition at Dallas, Texas.

The team unanimously won two out of three rounds of the academic debate-style competition, and lost in the third round with two out of three judges voting in its favor. The students qualified in the nationals after placing 4th in the Central State Regional Ethics Bowl on Nov. 12, 2016 in a contest held at Marian University. SMWC placed only behind Youngstown State, DePauw, and Taylor.

“I am immeasurably proud of our team,” said Peterschmidt, the team’s captain and SMWC Ethics Bowl founder. She was especially proud of the freshmen Mace and Mauk, whose contributions “added so much to our team,” she said.

For Mauk and Mace, being able to compete in a national contest was a great educational experience. Mauk, a Terre Haute native, described it as an “eye-opening experience” because they faced teams who are just as strong, prepared and organized as they were.

During the contest, Ethics Bowl teams argue cases and “defend their moral assessment of some of the most troubling and complex ethical issues facing society today,” according to the Association for Practical and Professional Ethics, which hosts the event.

“At nationals, I just really learned a lot about how other people interpret the cases,” said Mace. The Brazil, Indiana native said she benefited from listening to various viewpoints.

“Everybody has a different way of thinking, but once they explain it, you can definitely respect the way they think and how they think, and learn something from it,” she said.

Thanks to their newfound friends from the competition, Mace and Mauk, who will be co-captains of the SMWC Ethics Bowl team next year, said they gained new ideas about outlining cases and new ways to prepare for the contest.

Mace said participating in Ethics Bowl is important because it is helping her to grow as a critical thinker. “Ethics bowl opened my eyes and my ears … to what other people have to say and becoming a more knowledgeable person, which in return, makes me a better citizen for today’s society because I can respect so many different points of views on different subjects,” she said.

Peterschmidt said she noticed improvements in the team’s arguments and presentation this year. “Everything was better this year. As long as we’re improving every year, I’m proud and I’m happy,” she said.

“It was a great way to end my Ethics Bowl career,” she said of the experience at Texas.

The Ethics Bowl team was formed in 2014 when Peterschmidt, a Greenwood resident, was a sophomore. “At first, I just thought it would be a fun continuation of my high school experience” in the debate team, she said. But over the years, it became an important part of her personal and academic development, she added.

The members of the team are very grateful to the donors who helped them finance the trip to nationals this year. The students said they were touched by the generosity shown by fellow students and SMWC alumni.

The team’s success was a product of the students’ hard work and months of preparation guided by advisors Kathryn Krocza Myers '86 and Austin Somers. Last year, the team placed 2nd at regionals and 9th in the national competition at the Washington, D.C. area.