Academics and Research / Magazine Feature

DU bowls over competition in bioethics conference

The DU debate team won first place in the National Undergraduate Bioethics Bowl in Tacoma, Wash.

Organs are sold on the black market. Ethnic minorities unwittingly become subjects for medical research. Medical students practice on cadavers without consent.

Sound like a horror movie?

DU junior Tiffany Montano doesn’t think so. The public policy and philosophy major from Denver debated these topics and others with her team at the National Undergraduate Bioethics Conference and Bowl. Although DU took a just-for-fun approach, the team ended up winning the competition.

The bowl was held March 26–27 at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Wash. Nine teams participated, including students from the University of Miami, Loyola University Chicago and Texas Wesleyan University. Teams debated current bioethical issues such as surrogate motherhood, cryogenic freezing, and health insurance for illegal immigrants.

The scariest part came on the second day of the debates when DU discovered its score had been switched by mistake.

“You could say we participated in two debates,” Montano says. “Bioethics and getting the people running the bowl to fix their mistake. We sat down with them for over an hour and brainstormed ways to fix it.”

A second semi-final round was finally granted as a solution. After making it to the final round, DU won the championship with the greatest point difference out of all the rounds: 152 to 115.

The point discrepancy is quite a change from last year, when DU participated in the bowl for the first time and placed fifth among 12 teams.

DU’s team consisted of five members: Montano, Patrick Walsh, a sophomore math and philosophy major; Michelle Dover, a senior international studies and economics major; Mark Crapo, a senior English major; and Sean O’Hollaren, a sophomore computer science and philosophy major.

Philosophy Professor Candace Upton helped the team prepare for the bowl weekly during the winter quarter. Each team member researched three of the 15 possible cases then met with Upton to discuss case weaknesses and strengths. The hard work paid off.

“DU is committed to furnishing its students with relevant, timely, and high-level ethical reasoning skills,” Upton says. “This win is evidence that DU is the premiere ethics institution of the Front Range.”

As the bowl drew closer, meeting times increased, and so did the team’s chemistry. By the first day of the bowl, Montano and her teammates could describe themselves as a “beehive” because of their closeness and ability to track each other’s arguments during debates.

“The debates were a chance for us to look at the issues from different perspectives but also defend our own,” Montano says. “They were kind of like games, but they held more educational and ethical weight. I would love to do it again next year.”


Comments are closed.