Another in this month’s series of Victory Teas: the 2011-12 Sweet Briar Ethics Bowl Team!
You may recall that last year’s team took first place; because several of last year’s competitors graduated, this year Professor Kevin Honeycutt started with a new group of students including three first-years and one sophomore. Their second place achievement is outstanding, especially in light of their relative youth.
Here’s a quote from our news story about the event:
“Honeycutt said he was proud of how the team conducted itself throughout the tournament. “Each of these young women is poised, articulate and intellectually courageous,” he said. “They are quality representatives of the type of student that we aim to produce.””
The tea was great fun. The students told me about one hypothetical case, discussed over dinner at the Ethics Bowl closing banquet. In this scenario, a college president is offered, and accepts, a large donation on the condition that the donor’s nephew be accepted into a fraternity which had previously rejected him. The president goes to the members of the fraternity to ask that they admit the nephew, but they refuse. Over dinner the participants dissected the ethical issues raised by the actions of the donor, the president, and the fraternity.
As you can imagine, over tea in the pink parlor this led to a discussion that was obviously fascinating from my point of view. What are the appropriate boundaries to a donor’s requests? What gifts should a college president question or reject? How can a college balance student autonomy with larger institutional interests?
It was a perfect afternoon with bright and lively Sweet Briar students.