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VMI Ethics Team Competes in National Competition

Students before an ethics competition at VMI, a military college in Virginia

VMI ethics team members Gabriele Woodward '24, and Riley Malone '25, Harris Burton '23, and Riley Shultz '24 discuss strategy with their coach, Dr. Duncan Richter. -Photo courtesy of APPE.

LEXINGTON, Va. March 16, 2023 — The Virginia Military Institute Ethics Team recently competed at the Association for Professional and Practical Ethics Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl National Championship held in Portland, Oregon. The team qualified for the event by placing 4th in the Mid-Atlantic Regional Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl Competition last November. 

Members of the team who traveled to Portland include Harris Burton '23, Riley Shultz '24, Gabriele Woodward '24, and Riley Malone '25. They were sponsored by the Center for Leadership and Ethics, and coached by Dr. Duncan Richter, the Charles S. Luck III ’55 Institute Professor in the Department of English, Rhetoric, and Humanistic Studies.  

The two-day, multi-institutional collegiate competition included 36 teams. During the preliminary round, VMI scored three wins beating teams from the United States Military Academy West Point, Rollins College, and William & Mary. Advancing to the quarterfinal round, VMI competed against the United States Naval Academy (USNA) who narrowly defeated them by two points, and went on to win the championship. According to Richter, the scores of every round were close. “VMI made it to the last eight in the nation, and lost only to last year’s champions, which was the team from Macalester College in Saint Paul, Minnesota, and this year’s champions, USNA,” he said. 

A few of the questions posed to the VMI team to discuss were: Is it morally permissible for the panda to be the poster child for the World Wildlife Fund? Is providing medical screening for persons who likely cannot afford to treat their conditions morally permissible? What moral obligation, if any, do private universities have to promote free speech on their campuses? Do free speech zones actually serve this purpose? 

Burton, the cadet-in-charge, said, “We had an excellent time discussing a variety of complex issues such as bioethics, social issues, and challenges facing our legal system with accomplished students from across the country.” 

The team’s next competition will be the Military Ethics Case Competition held at the USNA in Annapolis, Maryland, in April.

Marianne Hause
Communications & Marketing

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