Four Harper College students this winter will debate ethical issues, from plagiarism and paid maternity leave to the legalization of drugs in Guatemala, at an event that combines the art of philosophy with the intensity of a national collegiate competition.
The Ethics Bowl team landed the opportunity to compete by grabbing its first-ever national championship qualifying bid at a December 1 regional contest. Harper’s squad beat out competitors from nearly a dozen Midwestern four-year colleges and universities, including the University of Michigan and the Illinois Institute of Technology, to earn the prestigious slot.
Meet the team:
Gilbert Morquecho, 22, of Buffalo Grove is a second-year student at Harper. During the first semester on Ethics Bowl, he realized he should have joined sooner. Morquecho got involved because he knew it would be a challenge and knew he’d be out of his comfort zone.
“I see Ethics Bowl as a chess game, but with an argument and reasons,” Morquecho said, and believes being involved will make him a strong persuader and thinker.
“You have to consider your opponents’ next move in order to be a step ahead,” Morquecho said.
Morquecho enjoys being on the team because he thinks everyone is there in part to develop skills that will help in their careers down the road – and he loves the coaches’ commitment to the students’ success. He will be transferring to DePaul University next year to pursue a degree in political science, and also plans to attend law school after receiving his bachelor’s degree.
Caitlin Weres, 19, of Arlington Heights is a second-year student at Harper. This is her first year on the Ethics Bowl team, she became interested after taking a class with Coach John Garcia and decided to join the team.
“Mr.Garcia has been an especially influential professor,” Weres said. She wanted to take on this challenge.
Weres likes being involved with Ethics Bowl because it gives her a chance to talk about the ethical issues that society faces and provides an intellectual setting with others who enjoy it.
“When our team meets with our coaches, we always get an awesome discussion started, and even though we all bring our differing views to the table, we can debate each other with respect and learn more about the issues at stake,” Weres said.
Ethics Bowl has given her the opportunity to become more confident with public speaking and with her ability to reason through complex concepts. As for making nationals, Weres said: “I couldn’t’ believe that we, the only community college competing in the regional, we were able to take the fourth-place spot among all the four-year schools.” Weres will be transferring to the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in the fall of 2013 to pursue a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree.
Eli Longbottom, of South Barrington is in his second year at Harper. He had been taking philosophy and philosophy-related courses, but then switched to a computer science concentration and sought out Ethics Bowl afterward to do something to keep him well-rounded.
He hadn’t initially realized there was a national competition – he just was having fun doing it. He plans to transfer to U of I to further pursue computer science once he finishes at Harper.
Matt Sandel, 19, of Arlington Heights is a second-year student at Harper. It is his first year on the Ethics Bowl team and says John Garcia has always been one of his favorite instructors since his first Harper class (Philosophy-Ethics).
Sandel says he loves the competitive nature of Ethics Bowl, but also loves the intellectual challenge – which is a different component from the athletic teams he’s competed on.
It involves “quick thinking and concise word choice,” Sanel said, which he enjoys. It wasn’t until the ride home from the regional competition that the team members and coaches fully realized the accomplishment and what it meant for the future of the team. Once he finishes at Harper, he tentatively plans to transfer to either UIC or U of I to pursue a major in chemistry and a minor in philosophy.
The team of four will travel to the Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl Championship in San Antonio, Texas on February 28 for the final leg of competition.
“This is the best Harper’s team has ever done, and, to my knowledge, it’s the first time a two-year college has qualified for the national contest,” said Assistant Professor John Garcia, who hosts the team with Assistant Professor Brett Fulkerson-Smith and has been involved with the national tournament since its inception. “We are extremely proud of the students’ successes.”