Access Programs Participates in Ethics Bowl

On Jan 31, the University of Puget Sound Philosophy Department partnered with Access Program students from Foss High School to participate in the Ethics Bowl, hosted by the University of Washington.

The Director of Access Programs, Joseph Colon, was excited to see an event like this become available.

An ethics bowl is a philosophy-based competition. It is a collaborative, competitive event during which teams of students analyze various ethical issues and put together a case. They then present their cases to the judges.

The Ethics Bowl encourages teamwork, critical thinking, and the competition of ideas. Philosophy has been proven to improve cognition in a way that is likely to increase standardized test scores, as reported by Dr. Keith Topping and Dr. Steven Trickey, who found that students’ scores improved an average of seven points in comparison to the control group (CAT3, 2001).

The Foss High students, along with Professor Ariel Tubert and her students, put in more than 80 hours of work.

“It was a real experience for [the Puget Sound students] to be in a situation where they have to teach people,” Tubert said.

The three Puget Sound students felt the same way.

“Coaching a high school ethics team was an invaluable experience for me. Being able to teach the skills that I have learned from my time competing has helped me to grow as a competitor as well. Additionally, Ethics Bowl  benefits [students] at the high school level by allowing [them] to foster critical and ethical thinking, methods of argumentation and their public speaking abilities. It is my hope that Tacoma high schools will continue to be interested in the program, and this partnership can go on for years to come,” Maia Bernick, senior said.

Although Foss High and the Loggers did not win, they had a great team and hope to go again next year. It is great to see other departments in the school support Access Programs using their resources, as well as helping connect Puget Sound students to the greater Tacoma community. Access Programs hopes that this will encourage their students to apply to the University, since they strive to get at least 10 Tacoma students a year.

Along with events like the Ethics Bowl, Access Programs runs a wide variety of programs to help local Tacoma youth, including writing workshops, SAT prep and tutoring. Since they are privately funded, their only limitation is staff.

“If we had more staff, we could have more of a presence in Tacoma schools and maybe even have an after-school program or counselors that work there,” Colon said.

Many schools in the Tacoma area do not have tutoring  or afterschool programs, so they close down their doors at 3 p.m., leaving the students with out anything to do until their parents get home after work.

Colon wants to increase Access Programs in local Tacoma schools to help students, and reduce the limitation of students having to find transportation to the University to participate in many programs like Tuesday Tutoring.

Lacking transportation to Puget Sound, bars access to these programs for children who attend schools outside the northern part of Tacoma.

What progress has been made, some believe more could be done with the appropriate staff and funding.

Other universities like University of California at Berkeley have opened up their resources (i.e. library data bases, computers, etc.) to those that don’t attend the University.