SEED in Cincinnati Spring2011

The SMU SEED (Society for Ethical Evaluation and Debate) Team participated in the Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl in Cincinnati in March 2011.

Strong showing at the Ethics Bowl

An update from Meredith Tavallaee:

SEED%20at%20airport.jpg We landed in Cincinnati at midnight, adrenaline racing, pumped and ready to go for the National Ethics Bowl competition. It was the first competition for all members, including myself: Mary Fan, Celesstia Valdez, Rachel Buchanan, and our coach, Stacy Cherones.

The competition began early in the morning, and we were ready for the first round. The first case was about teachers’ tenure being based on student achievement. Our team presented our proposition to have teachers’ tenure be based one-third on peer and supervisor review, one-third on student and family review, and one-third by standardized testing. We held our position and made a strong argument, anticipating the second case.

The second case was about whether it is ethical to have “Failure due to Dishonesty” notated on a student’s transcript if they failed a class due to cheating. We argued that this “FD” would be necessary because, to put it briefly, cheating requires harsh consequences to try to prevent it from occurring.

It was a tough road, but we won! Our team worked so well together, and it felt so rewarding to win. Unfortunately, we did not make it into the semifinals, but we are proud of our accomplishment of making it to nationals and being able to hold our own against tough competitors. We learned a lot and are already gearing up for next year! We are hoping to expand our team into two and recruit new members. These competitions are fun because they give you the opportunity to bond with your team members and become better friends.

SEED%20Meredith%20Book.jpg While we were very busy with the competition, we were still able to have some leisurely fun. We got to explore downtown Cincinnati and tried Donato’s pizza, which was amazing, and even found an old bookstore – The Ohio Book Store, Inc – that has been in Cincinnati since 1940. They have all sorts of old, valuable books in their three-story building, and we were able to go behind the scenes of their book bindery! I even bought a 1940 book in French!

Overall, looking back on my experience with SEED, I am so grateful for the opportunity to make new friends and expand my knowledge of philosophy, ethics and debate. As an art history major, philosophy and ethics are almost foreign to me, but I don’t feel that way anymore after being a member of SEED.

I’ve learned important things about philosophy that have helped me in my other classes, specifically English. My debating skills have definitely improved as well as my ability to think on my feet. It can be nerve-racking to argue your team’s position in front of a panel of educated professionals, but when you win, the feeling is unbelievable. I can’t wait to improve and win next year!

If you are interested in joining SEED, contact me at

Posted in SEED in Cincinnati Spring2011 | Comments Off on Strong showing at the Ethics Bowl

Whirlwind experience

An update from Rachel Buchanan, a psychology major and ethics minor:

Girl.JPG Our flights home were full of sleepy people, which I took the time to document. We had a brief layover in Philadelphia, where our team was in search for two things: items from “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” television show and breakfast.

bfast_2%5B1%5D.jpg We found fun T-shirts at a Philadelphia store that we purchased to wear with pride. Then we found a restaurant with an excellent breakfast menu. Meredith and Mary enjoyed “build-your-own” omelet, and Celesstia, Stacy and I stuck with a traditional Eggs Benedict. This was my favorite meal for sure, the hollandaise sauce was perfection and they even served my favorite brand of espresso, Illy. It was truly the breakfast of (next year’s) champions. Wheaties doesn’t even compare.

While our trip was a whirlwind experience, I will cherish the memories and knowledge gained from it for many years to come. We are eager for next year’s competition and have already made plans to continue enjoying our two passions over the summer.

philly%20in%20the%20air.jpg Our team has created an informal philosophy/foodie book club called Food for Thought. Aptly named, right? We plan on reading different philosophers each month and getting together to discuss their theories while enjoying different types of food for each meeting.

Our first book is “A Story of Philosophy” and we are going to start with creating loaded sweet potato French fries. It may be an odd combination, but it works for us, and to use the old saying: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” My only regret is that I never had any authentic Cincinnati chili, but we can plan for a big bowl next year!

Posted in SEED in Cincinnati Spring2011 | Comments Off on Whirlwind experience

Top of our game

An update from Rachel Buchanan, a psychology major and ethics minor:

Unfortunately, I’m not much of a morning person and forgot to photographically document the quick breakfast we grabbed at the Hilton. It was mostly liquid forms of caffeine and bananas, but was not disappointing by any means. Turns out, we were all sleepy and nervous about the competition, so we didn’t have much of an appetite, which is unlike us.

As we filed into the Hall of Mirrors for the commencement ceremony, we noticed we were the only all-female team competing. It was exciting because it felt like we were breaking the mold, and we even had a few judges remark on our team’s uniqueness.

We competed at the top of our game, considering it was our first time to Nationals and our first year competing together; we were happy to score as well as we did. We won our first round, almost tied the second. The third round was the most intense, discussing topics of electing foreclosure on a mortgage and the ethics of alcoholic-caffeinated beverage combinations and if these products should be sold.

Pizza.jpg Unfortunately, we did not score enough points to advance to quarterfinals, which was upsetting but not discouraging. We decided to venture out for lunch into downtown Cincinnati to try a local pizza place. After filling up on chicken spinach pizza and apple pie pizza (yes, it was delicious) we noticed a small bookstore across the street.

bookbinding.jpg This may be the highlight of my time in Cincinnati; the gentlemen that own and operate this store were so hospitable! They gave us the grand tour, showing us all three floors and the basement, where they run a book binding business. They even allowed me to document the entire tour with my camera. The store has been there since the 1940s and has been passed down in the family for decades.

bookbinding_8.jpg The owner’s son ran the bookbinding division and showed us different books he restored and even books he was in the process of making. It was very interesting to see the metal letters used to make words for the spines and covers of books, a printing style called hot type. He showed us a family Bible from the 1880s that he was restoring; it was like a work of art and the largest Bible I’ve ever seen. (This may not say much because I do not have a great deal of Bible experience.)

When we made our way back to the hotel, we sat through the rest of the rounds to listen to the different ways each team presented their ethical approach for each case. It was a great learning experience to see how different teams set up ideas, without having to be competing against the idea; instead we were just able to absorb it and digest it.

We learned so much during the entire competition and are so excited to use what we have learned for next year. We also learned there are so many contemporary philosophers we want to study; this opened the door to so many new things. We were so engrossed in the final rounds that we forgot to eat dinner.

The final round was tough, the two teams discussed topics such as the competing duties of law officials to uphold unjust laws toward undocumented workers and the ethical implications of bringing back a stereotypical racial portrayal Chinese-American detective from the 1920s. Would this perpetuate negative stereotypes in our culture or would it be a learning experience of our past prejudices? The final round finished just before midnight on Thursday evening.

Since we had to depart from the hotel before 5 AM for our flight home, we could not attend the reception and meet with judges and other team members. We were too sleepy to be sociable, so we will make up for it next year.

Posted in SEED in Cincinnati Spring2011 | Comments Off on Top of our game

Sharing passions: ethics and food

An update from Rachel Buchanan, a psychology major and ethics minor:

The Cary M. Maguire Center for Ethics and Public Responsibility sponsored the SEED (Society for Ethical Evaluation and Debate) team to participate in the National Ethics Bowl in Cincinnati, Ohio, on March 3, 2011.

This was our first year as a team to compete in the Ethics Bowl; with last semester’s regional in San Antonio, we started our learning curve and scored enough points to qualify for the National Ethics Bowl. We were more than excited to prepare the 15 cases and embark on a journey across the country to debate topics we are passionate about.

Since the trip to San Antonio, it became apparent that our team is not only composed of young adults who love to discuss ethics, but also a bunch of foodies who were always down for trying new food. It was a win-win situation to be involved in a group that had a passion for weird food, so we have woven it into our experience with the competition.

In San Antonio, we hunted down giant cinnamon rolls; in Austin we searched for oversized burgers. We have yet to be let down with our choices. Now that I reflect, the name alone is probably what drew our group together, the hopes of our two passions: food and ethics, or ethics bowl, depending on how you look at it, would somehow be more than a play on words. And look at that, it did unite into one delicious adventure!

The competition was held in Cincinnati at the Hilton Cincinnati Netherland Plaza hotel that has a rich history with the city. Our team was much larger for the fall semester, but not everyone could make the commitment to travel during the week, so we arrived with a four-member team consisting of Mary, Meredith, Celesstia and myself.

Traveling to get there was an adventure because we had a three-hour layover in North Carolina, where we enjoyed dinner at Chili’s Too. For dessert, we found a shop to sit in and work over our cases once more, while enjoying tasty white chocolate-covered pretzels and iced coffees. We made it to our final destination a quarter until 1 AM and crashed for the night before the big competition.

Posted in SEED in Cincinnati Spring2011 | Tagged , | Comments Off on Sharing passions: ethics and food