Ethics Bowl Team Goes 2-2 at Mid-Atlantic Regionals

By Lily Riesett

Vol. 82 Issue 6 December 14th 2021

Saturday, Nov. 14, the St. Mary’s Ethics Bowl team competed in the 2021 Mid-Atlantic Ethics Bowl hosted by the University of North Georgia. Under the leadership of Assistant Professor of Philosophy Dr. Michael Taber, the Seahawks won the verdict of eight judges and lost the verdict of four. The team competed in four rounds of reasoning and ended up going 2-2. One round was narrowly lost by one point, being “the closest [match] they [the judges] could recall.” The team was also congratulated extensively on their thorough presentation of ideas and decorum during the discussion.

The Ethics Bowl Team is an extension of the Philosophy Department at St. Mary’s. It was founded by the department in 2010 when it began participating in the Mid-Atlantic Regional Ethics Bowl. The event is hosted by the Association for Practical and Professional Ethics, an organization devoted to the advancement of ethics and ethical thinking. This has given the team the opportunity to compete against some of the top academically-ranking schools in the country, such as Duke, Georgetown and UNC Chapel Hill. The team has competed every fall since 2010 in this competition.

The team is composed of five students, ranging from philosophy students to biology majors. The students include Zane Obi, Nnenna Ejikeme, Mollie Rudow, Hannah Yale and Nathan Villiger. The members have been meeting since the beginning of the semester for 4 hours a week to prepare for the competition. 

To prepare for competition in the Mid-Atlantic Regional Ethics bowl, students developed arguments for 15 different prompts. These include whether climbing on indegenous land is morally correct, whether the filibuster is still useful in today’s political environment, if policing should be reformed and whether critical race theory should be banned from being taught in schools. Each student prepared a stance and research for a few of the cases which they presented to the class for them to use during the competition. 

“One of my favorites that we discussed was case number 9, which focuses on the ethics of paying ransom in ransomware attacks,” said sophomore team member Nathan Villiger. These are attacks which encrypt files on devices and render them non-usable. He liked this case because of how topical it was. “We got to apply one of my favorite ethical frameworks, utilitarianism, to the case.” Utilitarianism follows the idea that an action is morally correct based on the level of happiness it produces. Students used frameworks such as this one to make arguments during the cases. 

“We did not grab a spot at the regional competition to continue on at nationals, and therefore we will probably take this semester to recuperate and rebuild our team to what we want to see at nationals in the fall of 2022,” relayed Villiger. Nevertheless, the school is incredibly proud of their hard work during the Mid-Atlantic Regional competition.

Broadway Legend Stephen Sondheim Dies

By Lily Riesett

Vol. 82 Issue 6 December 14th 2021

Composer Stephen Sondheim passed away at 91 on Friday, Nov. 26 at his home in Roxbury, Connecticut. Sondheim’s friends and family knew he was ill, but the death was rather unexpected and sudden. After completing an autopsy, the cause of death had been marked as a cardiovascular disease. He had been celebrating Thanksgiving with some friends in Roxbury just the day before. 

Sondheim was born on March 22, 1930, in Manhattan and lived on the Upper East Side of New York City. He attended military and private school up until his parents separated during his teenage years. He stayed living with his mother to support her, but had a very difficult relationship with her. He recalls her either flirting with him or belittling him. She was good friends with lyricist Oscar Hammerstein II who took Sondheim under his wing and taught him how to write music. 

Sondheim attended Williams College in Massachusetts, where he studied music composition. He got the opportunity to study under famous composers Milton Babbitt and Robert Barrow and worked for the agency representing Hammerstein after college. Sondheim then began writing for what he was destined to do: Broadway musicals. 

Sondheim led a very successful life and career, writing music for some of Broadway’s most beloved shows. His first Broadway show which he wrote the music and lyrics for premiered in 1962, a comedy musical “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum.” He went on to win a Tony for Best Musical. Sondheim began his career on Broadway writing lyrics for well known musicals such as “West Side Story” and “Gypsy” in the late 50’s. After his success in ‘62, he decided to only write lyrics for his own compositions. 

Some of his most prized works which he wrote both the music and lyrics for include “Company” (1970), “Follies” (1971), “A Little Night Music” (1973), “Pacific Overtures” (1976), “Sweeney Todd” (1979), “Merrily We Roll Along” (1981), “Sunday in the Park With George” (1984) and “Into the Woods” (1987).  Five  of his shows won Tonys for Best Musical, six  won for Best Original Score and “Sunday in the Park With George” went on to win a Pulitzer Prize. 

In honor of his passing, many Broadway stars joined together in Times Square to sing in remembrance of Sondheim. They performed pieces from his shows as the theater community grieved his death. Sondheim’s legacy will live on in the theater as being one of the most successful lyricists and composers in Broadway history.