The Virginia Wesleyan ethics bowl team captured the 2020 Virginia Foundation for Independent Colleges (VFIC) championship. The team has not obtained this feat since 2000.
This year’s team consisted of sophomore Anitra Howard, freshman Criofan Shaw, and Team Captain, junior Alex Powers. The team spent over a semester practicing weekly by going over ethical cases, principles and frameworks of philosophy. The theme this year was ethics in higher education, a topic that especially resonated with the students.
Unfortunately, the faculty advisor for the team, Dr. Kathy Merlock Jackson and her husband Joe were involved in a severe car accident the Friday night before the team’s departure for the competition. Both were transported to the hospital in critical condition where they have since been receiving care.
“It was hard to process. Immediately, Dr. Schaus was in touch with us letting us know about her status and that they were trying to coordinate other faculty advisors to accompany us so that we could still go and represent the school,” Powers said. It was then that Virginia Wesleyan faculty members April Christman and Dr. Marquez stepped in to lead the team. “They were a big part of our team’s success this weekend.”
The competition consists of four rounds of competition, two each day, where teams from two different schools compete. An ethical case is presented, and the teams have to develop a plan of action justified by various ethical principles for what someone in that scenario should do.
The VWU team defeated Hampden-Sydney in the championship round, a team who has been dominant in recent years at the Ethics Bowl. “We’re really building a nice program: we’ve been 12-0 in competition rounds over the last three years, and now we’ve got a chip under our belt,” Powers said.
“I can’t put in words what the whole thing means, it just means a lot having the chance to represent Virginia Wesleyan in this way and go out and compete in something that really matters like this. It was so special to win, especially given the adversity,” Powers said.
“It really tested us as students, and as people, in everything we did this past weekend. It came down to trust in our advisors, trust in our teammates, and trusting our gut the entire time. Ultimately, I’m proud of us, and I’m proud that we could do this for Dr. Jackson. I know that she would have been elated to have been there to see it through.”
Describing the experience as a whole, Powers added, “there’s not much like it. It’s such a great event with some amazing people. I’m grateful for everyone I met, all that I learned and all of the support we got along the way. There’s so much that goes into an event like this.”
“Now, I just want to make sure we’re there for Dr. Jackson. I can’t wait for our team to see her and tell her that we finally did it,” said Powers. “We’re finally bringing this trophy home for the first time in 20 years.”
Editor’s Note: Alex Powers also serves as an editor for the Marlin Chronicle, and Dalton Powers shares no relation.