Manhattan College Debate Takes Part in Ethics Bowl

by Megan Dreher & August Kissel

Asst. Editor & Editor

On November 11, the Manhattan College Debate Team participated in the Northeast Regional Ethics Bowl at Marist College. The team competed against schools across the east coast, including Villanova, West Point and Moravian.

Each team in the Bowl is guaranteed three rounds of debate. The judges introduce the case, which the teams have been preparing for all semester, and then the chosen team begins to formulate their case.

The cases cover a variety of ethical topics. This includes topics like abortion, euthanasia, ethical issues involving Donald Trump, critiquing not him but the institution, for example the electoral college. Or more recent topics include the Keystone Access Pipeline, which recently started an oil spill, and teen suicide and its connections to the Netflix show Thirteen Reasons Why.

The teams each had ten minutes on the floor to make their cases, often led by the student who did the most research on that specific case. The opposing team then took five minutes to rebuttal against the case, and then the starting team took the following five minutes to defend themselves. The judges then proceeded to ask questions to the defending team, and finally the judges, three local professionals, came up with their final scores and the case was then closed.

While the team did not advance to the quarterfinals, they saw success in winning two out of their three matches. They lost by a small margin to Villanova in the first round, defeated one of the two West Point teams in the second round, and then finished strong with a win against Moravian College in the third round.

“We didn’t qualify for the top eight. Even so, the team spirit was high afterwards because we had such a great time debating and arguing. It’s nice to be in that moment and you’re with these other teams and you’re talking it out. Here are my points here are your points, here are some flaws. Even after all of that, it is so high, exciting, and thrilling, euphoric,” said team member and philosophy and government double major, Liam Moran.

The team advisor and visiting assistant professor in the philosophy department, David Bollert, echoed praises of the team’s performance overall.

“The team members performed admirably at the tournament. Their presentations were rigorous in argumentation, passionate in tone, and firm in conviction. More importantly, team members assisted one another during each match, and the team as a whole displayed humility when it won and graciousness when it lost. It was a delightful day,” stated Bollert.

“In regards to my personal experience, I truly learned a lot from the competition. Some of the topics that we were presented with had varying sides of what each person considers to be morally right or wrong. So it was interesting to see what sides the opposing teams took and how strong their argument was,” stated Mackenzie Cooper, a member of the team who debated for the first time at the competition.

In total, five students from the debate team participated in the competition. Dr. Bollert selected the members of the team who participated in the competition based off of their knowledge of the cases, group participation and attendance to the weekly meetings.

“We are welcoming to everyone in the community here at Manhattan College. You don’t have to be a philosophy major. Dr. Bollert is very avid about getting everyone involved,” said Moran.

Looking forward, the team will not be active again until the fall 2018 semester.

“Our goal is to make the next round at the regional competition and then hopefully nationals,” said team member Rory Hannigan.