Saint Martin’s University’s new debate team to debut at ICW Ethics Bowl competition

March 31, 2014

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LACEY, Wash. – The new Saint Martin’s Debate Team will compete for the first time Friday, April 4, at the 2014 Independent Colleges of Washington Ethics Bowl. The annual event, hosted at Seattle University, is free and open to the public.

The ICW Ethics Bowl will be a full-day, judged competition among the ICW’s 10-member college and universities. It is designed to showcase the students’ knowledge of applied ethics as a hallmark of their college experience at an ICW-member institution. Each of the 10 members is sending a team of up to five students to debate in a competitive setting, using prepared cases that explore real or hypothetical ethical issues, such as cyber security, data mining and health information management. The 2014 Ethics Bowl will be based on the theme of “The Ethics of Science and Technology in the Workplace.”

“This event will showcase student knowledge, communications skills, teamwork and their ability to think and speak about important issues on their feet. This is a tremendous glimpse into our future leaders,” says Violet A. Boyer, president and chief executive officer of ICW. “Students are judged on clarity and presentation, identification and discussion of the central ethical dimensions in a case, and their ability to deliberate thoughtfully while including multiple viewpoints.”

The Saint Martin’s debate team members are: Matthew Tietjen ’15 (psychology); Amy Pollard ’16 (English); Alyssa Hancock ’16 (business management); and Simone Smith ’15 (religious studies). Tessa Blackstad ’16 (elementary education) serves in the role of alternate.

“The debate team has been holding regular meetings throughout the school year,” Tietjen says. “Now that we are in full preparation mode, we hold regularly scheduled practice scrimmages, as well as frequent, impromptu meetings.”

The team members are working under the guidance of debate team faculty advisors Father David Pratt, assistant professor of philosophy, Ernesto Chavez, adjunct professor of criminal justice, and Michael Artime, adjunct professor of political science.

Tietjen, who has played an integral role in developing the debate team, says Saint Martin’s President Roy F. Heynderickx, Ph.D., enthusiastically endorsed the formation of the team as part of an initiative to help Saint Martin’s students further craft critical thinking and other skills that are crucial for success in the workplace and in life beyond the college experience. Students interested in joining the debate team were required to enroll in a course the University introduced during the fall 2013 semester.

“It’s an interdisciplinary class designed to help students develop their philosophical views, as well as their public speaking and presentation skills,” Tietjen explains. “They also learn how to apply these skills to contemporary ethical issues.”

The Ethics Bowl’s winning team will be announced Saturday, April 5, during the ICW’s 60th Anniversary Celebration Dinner (by invitation only) at Chihuly Garden and Glass in Seattle.

Member institutions of the Independent Colleges of Washington share a commitment to high-quality, academically rigorous learning, and to an education that emphasizes critical thinking, lifelong learning, ethics, leadership and community service.

Saint Martin’s University is an independent four-year, coeducational university located on a wooded campus of more than 300 acres in Lacey, Washington. Established in 1895 by the Catholic Order of Saint Benedict, the University is one of 14 Benedictine colleges and universities in the United States and Canada, and the only one west of the Rocky Mountains. Saint Martin’s University prepares students for successful lives through its 23 majors and seven graduate programs spanning the liberal arts, business, education, nursing and engineering. Saint Martin’s welcomes more than 1,100 undergraduate students and 400 graduate students from many ethnic and religious backgrounds to its Lacey campus, and 300 more undergraduate students to its extension campuses located at Joint Base Lewis-McChord and Centralia College. Visit the Saint Martin’s University website at

For additional information:

Fr. David Pratt
Assistant professor, philosophy

Meg Nugent Dwyer
Media relations manager