For the first time since 2006, The University of Texas-Pan American Collaboration for Ethics (PACE) student team became the only public university in Texas to be invited to the 2010 National Ethics Bowl.
The PACE team advanced to the national competition after finishing undefeated at the Regional Ethics Bowl event held in November 2009 at St. Mary's University in San Antonio, Texas. The team joined Southern Methodist University, Texas Lutheran University and University of Incarnate Word, among other universities from across the United States, at nationals in Cincinnati, Ohio March 4.
"This experience has given them confidence and empowerment in their own abilities academically and professionally," Jones said. "They have done a great job and I would like to take the credit, but I can't because they have done so much work."
According to Jones the students competed in the largest professional ethics competition in the country.
"These students are darn brilliant. I am constantly impressed with how clever they are," Jones said. "They have worked really hard and put in a lot of time in order to prepare for these competitions."
At each competition, the team is given prominent cases that involve ethical issues. They must research, study and be able to argue the pros and cons of each case in a logical and structured manner with appropriate evidence.
At the regional level, the students received seven cases, and for the national competition were given 15. The cases included, but were not limited to, Nadya Suleman, popularly known as "Octomom," the woman who gave birth to eight babies; Proposition 8, which eliminates the right to same sex marriages in California; illegal immigrant health care and rights; and whether or not it is morally right for a student to take Adderall, a performance enhancing drug, before taking the Law School Admission Test (LSAT).
The PACE team had two months to prepare for national competition, receiving their case load in January. They created outlines of each case, came up with responses and rehearsed by building up arguments and counter arguments against each case. Preparation time, however, was a team effort from their sponsor, the students and other UTPA faculty members.
Sakshi Puri, senior biology and philosophy major, said the process the team has undergone to succeed has been a great learning experience.
"The process has been exciting and draining at the same time. It has really been enlightening, which is how your college experience should be," Puri said. "We obviously have very different perspectives, so we have to find a middle ground which refines you as a person while trying to improve yourself."
Despite being knocked out in the first round, senior and team member Michelle Eubanks believes that the team did great overall.
"I am very proud of our team," Eubanks said. "We were prepared, performed well and did our best."
Senior team member Naveeda Farooqi said there are things they can work on to do better.
"I believe the judges wanted to see more team collaboration," said Farooqui, who hopes to compete again next year.
Jones also gave thanks to Dr. Dhalia Guerra, dean of the College of Arts and Humanities, for, despite the recent budget reductions, giving up some of her college's traveling money to give the students this opportunity to participate in the national competition.
"It's a big deal and I appreciate that Guerra and college administration understands that this competition and experience is a good thing for our students," Jones said.