OC beats OU, wins fifth straight state ethics title

OC’s state championship team of Sean Vandyke, Megan McKinley and Tyler Clark.
OC’s state championship team of Sean Vandyke, Megan McKinley and Tyler Clark.

OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. – They’ve defeated the University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State University for five straight years in head-to-head competition.

But winning state championships definitely hasn’t gotten old for the students on Oklahoma Christian University’s ethics team.

For the fifth consecutive year, a team from Oklahoma Christian swept its competition and won the Oklahoma Statewide Student Ethics Challenge. OC’s “Aguilas” defeated two teams from OU and a squad from the University of Central Oklahoma to capture the state title.

OC advances to the Texas Regional Ethics Bowl on Nov. 12 in San Antonio hoping to claim a third straight regional championship. If the team performs well, it will compete in February’s Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl in Dallas. OC’s teams have placed third, fifth and eighth nationally during this run.

Sponsored by the Association for Practical and Professional Ethics, an ethics contest consists of several rounds, with each round focusing on a specific dilemma. Unlike a traditional debate competition, both teams can agree on what the outcome of the case should be. The participants are charged with discussing why that outcome is best according to ethical and moral philosophical reasonings.

OC’s success is built on sound ethics and hard work; the students practice at 6 a.m. every Tuesday and Thursday for weeks in advance of each contest because they can’t use notes in competition.

Dr. Jeff Simmons serves as dean of OC’s College of Business Administration and has sponsored the ethics team since its inception six years ago.

“Ethics is the favorite part of my job,” Simmons said. “I’m always so thoroughly impressed by the students because they do a phenomenal job, and they even challenge me. It’s an honor to work with them.”

For the first time, OC’s team has a pair of siblings competing together: Brendan and Megan McKinley. Brendan, a freshman electrical engineering major, and Megan, a junior political science and English major, hail from Colorado Springs, Colorado.

“The McKinleys are incredibly supportive of each other, which is really neat,” Simmons said. “There’s no sibling rivalry. When one is giving the other constructive criticism, they know it’s only in the other’s best interest.”

Megan and Brendan agree those crack-of-dawn Ethics practices are often the highlight of their days.

“It’s just fun,” Megan said. “I like the clash and the intellectual argument. It forces you to be on your toes all the time and thinking about why you actually believe what you do and the valid reasons behind that.”

This is Megan’s third year on OC’s ethics team. She competed with Sean Vandyke and Tyler Clark on OC’s winning “Aguilas” team.

Brendan, who won the national championship in his division as a high school senior last year, competed as part of OC’s Eagles Team with Preston Coleman and Hadley LaMascus. The trio, all new to collegiate ethics competition, finished 1-2 with narrow losses to OU and Oklahoma State University.

“Through ethics, I gain a more robust, moral analysis of different issues that are facing us as adults,” Brendan said. “We really develop that by thinking about and debating ethical issues. In doing so, sometimes we change our own opinion.”

Oklahoma Christian annually ranks as one of the best universities in the western United States by The Princeton Review and U.S. News and World Report. A recent study rated Oklahoma Christian as one of the best higher education values in Oklahoma, citing the university’s low net price combined with OC graduates’ high starting salaries.

OC set another school record with 2,600 students enrolled this year. The university offers undergraduate programs in more than 80 fields of study, an undergraduate Honors Program, and graduate programs in accountancy, business administration, computer science, engineering, Christian ministry, divinity, and theological studies.