The Oklahoma Christian University ethics teams won first and second place at the Statewide Student Ethics Challenge Saturday, Oct. 28 against seven other universities in Oklahoma.
Oklahoma Christian has participated in the ethics challenge since 2011, when the university first hosted the event. The challenge took place on the campus again this year, and this is Oklahoma Christian’s sixth time to win.
Six Oklahoma Christian students make up the two teams, the Eagles and Aguilas, which represent the school. Seanhenry Vandyke, Megan McKinley, and Tyler Clark form one team while Brendan McKinley, Hadley Lamascus, and Ruger Stocking form the other. The latter won first place at the ethics bowl by a one-point differential. Both teams went into the final round undefeated.
According to their website, the mission of the Student Education and Ethics Development Foundation (SEED), is to support initiatives on campuses across the state, which promote integrity, education and ethical decision making. One of their biggest events is the Statewide Student Ethics Challenge.
“The daylong event requires weeks of preparation and provides an opportunity for students to crystallize their thinking through dilemmas involving personal and professional integrity,” the website said. “Ultimately, this helps prepare them for difficult issues they may encounter in the workplace.”
Jeff Simmons, dean of the college of business administration and coach of the teams, said the students have practiced twice every week since the beginning of September to prepare for the debates. According to Simmons, the administrators of the student ethics challenge gave them the ten cases they could be debating in advance so they could practice.
“We meet for four hours each week with Dr. Simmons to discuss and practice our presentations on these cases,” Vandyke said. “We research related moral philosophies and then practice our speeches on the various debate topics using sample questions that Dr. Simmons came up with.”
During the challenge, teams from each school debated six of the ten cases, and the Oklahoma Christian teams made it to the final round, where they participated in two more debates.
Simmons said the students are not allowed to have notes with them, so they have to present their responses on the spot. The judges announce the case in each round, state a question pertaining to the case, and the presenting team has to present their response.
“The format is very similar to traditional debate, where one team presents and the other team responds,” Simmons said. “The original presenting team gets to respond to that commentary and then a new case is presented and the roles reversed. The biggest difference is both teams can agree on their ethical position. It matters on how you formulate your argument and present it. Is one team’s argument more robust, rounded in moral philosophy, are they more clear in their argument?”
All the members of the Oklahoma Christian team volunteered and auditioned to be a part of the team. Vandyke said being a part of the Oklahoma Christian ethics team teaches him to think readily on his feet and keeps his public-speaking skills sharp.
“It’s a great way to learn more about moral philosophy and practice applying it to real-world situations,” Vandyke said. “Perhaps most importantly, the rest of our ethics team and Dr. Simmons are very fun to practice with and make it a highly enjoyable and encouraging time.”
Simmons said the students who comprise the ethics teams make the experience great.
“I love it,” Simmons said. “It’s one of my favorite aspects of my job. The students are just outstanding to work with. They make it a joy to get up at 6 a.m. on Tuesdays and Thursday. They’re fun and intelligent, and they challenge me.”
The teams will be advance to the regional competition in Texas Nov. 11 and will compete against 28 other schools.