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Ethics Team Takes Second at Regionals, Advances to Nationals

On Saturday, November 19, Georgetown’s Ethics Bowl team faced off against teams from around the Mid-Atlantic region in a debate-style competition sponsored by the the Association for Practical and Professional Ethics (APPE). With expectations raised by a Washington Post interview with team captain Elizabeth Bakacs, Georgetown went on to defeat all three opponents to advance to the semi-finals — and earn one of just four spots in the National competition, which will take place in March 2012.

Throughout the day, Georgetown’s team proved to be a fierce and daunting force against veteran teams that had competed at the national level: U.S. Naval Academy, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and Clemson University. They presented their positions on the ethical issues surrounding raising children in a gender-neutral fashion, the sexually charged office culture and work environment of American Apparel, and doctors expressing their political views in the context of a private practice. At the end of three rounds, Georgetown had secured its spot at Nationals and emerged as the top contender, having won all three of their competitions by the greatest point differential.

In the semi-finals, Georgetown went on to defeat the University of Maryland Baltimore County with a case on the moral permissibility of current international student recruitment practices of U.S. universities — a perplexing issue that has been on radar of the National Association of College Admissions Counselors since this past July.

In the final round Georgetown competed against defending 2010 regional champions, Clemson University. The round featured a case on the ethical issues of states reducing pensions because of budget deficits and law schools performing retroactive grade inflation due to difficulty in finding employment encountered by its graduates. Both teams presented polished cases; Georgetown’s Michael Vu argued for the moral impermissibility of promise-breaking on behalf of the states and offered a nuanced, innovative policy proposal that would both mitigate the worry that such a reduction would happen at the expense of retirees in the future and that would leave the least moral residue at the end of the day. Clemson’s Courtney Dixon contended that the practice of retroactive grade inflation in the case of Loyola Law School was neither properly motivated nor efficacious in improving the situations of law school graduates or the legal field at large. While each team performed at an impressive level, Clemson, who lost to Georgetown in an earlier round of the competition, pulled out a victory in the final round to win the regional title. Georgetown’s team looks forward to facing Clemson again in the National competition and is proud to have placed second at Regionals.