Ethics Society’s debate team advances to national bowl

A year and a half since their formation, the Ethics Society’s debate team will compete at the National Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl in Cincinnati, Ohio, making them the first ethics debate team from the University of Miami to compete at the national levelGL.

A challenge for debate team members will be preparing arguments for 15 ethics cases to compete against other universities including the U.S. Military Academy and the University of Southern California at the national competition. The members include senior Elizabeth Tedford; freshman Nick Holzer; and juniors Christina Fiallo, Joshua Morales and Ryan Kairalla,

“It is a fairly daunting task, but we have to do what we did last time,” said Karialla, the team chairperson. “We have to break it down and meet a couple of times a week.”

The debate team won their chance to compete at the Ethics Bowl after placing second on a point-based system at the Southeast Regional Ethics Bowl in St. Petersburg, last November.

Morales, the Ethics Society vice president, described preparation for ethics debates as physically taxing, but also a rewarding learning experience.

“You don’t just learn a lot about the cases, you learn a lot of the beliefs and the people you are working with,” said Morales. “That is probably one of the greatest benefits of participating in events like this.”

Ethics Bowl do not allow notes during the debate, thus the debate team’s preparation for the national competition involves creating debate strategies with ethical principles; memorizing important facts about 15 ethics cases given to them in advance; and creating and memorizing arguments for each.

“It is a lot on our shoulders, but we have a lot of support from faculty advisors, the UM Ethics Programs, the university as a whole and each other,” Morales said.

The UM Ethics Programs is an umbrella organization for the Ethics Society and its debate team.

Based on their experiences in the UM Citizens Board Debate in 2005, Tedford, Kairalla, and Morales presented the idea of incorporating a debate team as part of the existing Ethics Society to their current advisors.

“They started from scratch,” said Cava, an associate professor of business law and Ethics Society adviser. “You get out of anything everything you put into it.”

Kenneth Goodman, who is co-director of the Ethics Programs, also advises the team.

In addition to the debate team’s preparation for nationals, they will be involved in the Arsht Ethics Debates at Sportsfest, which were made possible by local Miami businesswoman and chairman of Board of Directors at TotalBank, Adrienne Arsht.

“Adrienne Arsht made a sizable donation to UM Ethics Programs and because of this funding that we are able to have this debate,” said Tedford, the Ethics Society president.

Arsht donated a $1 million dollars to Ethics Programs in April 2006.

The debate team will hold an exhibition on Jan. 24 on the University Center patio to demonstrate a competitive debate.

“All students interested in participating at the Arsht Ethics Debate can have an opportunity to come out and see for themselves what a round of ethics debate entails and to interact with ethics society members,” Morales said.

The Arsht Ethics Debate will take place on Feb. 10 and the National Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl will take place on Feb. 22.

Cava intends to travel and support the team.

“I’ll be going to nationals to cheer them on and I hope they inspire other students,” said Cava.

Students interested in the Arsht Ethics Debate may sign up in their residential colleges.

Fabiola Stewart may be contacted at

January 23, 2007


The Miami Hurricane

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