Press Release: SPREADING THE CONVERSATION: HURON HIGH SCHOOL STUDENT CASE ON DEER CULL TO BE FEATURED IN ETHICS COMPETITION

Ann Arbor, MI – For the past two years, the Ann Arbor deer cull has been the subject of much conversation among Ann Arborites — and this fall, it will be the subject of conversations across the country, too, as an ethics case for regional High School Ethics Bowls in twenty-five states outside Michigan.

Huron High School senior Miguel Cisneros’s case “The Cull”, written with help from fellow Huron students Ellie Makar-Limanov and Frank Seidl, has been picked for inclusion in the case study set featured in regional competitions leading up to the National High School Ethics Bowl.

Jeanine DeLay, A2Ethics president, said she was excited the Bowl would be including a student case in the 2017-2018 competition.

“Special thanks to Dominique Déry, the National Director of the National High School Ethics Bowl for considering student written cases on topics they are most passionate about,” DeLay said. “While "The Cull" represents a local concern, the issues presented in this complex case have national significance. We are thrilled for the author, Huron student Miguel Cisneros, as well as the Huron High Ethics Bowl team —and congratulate them for putting Michigan issues front and center.”   

The case was written earlier this year as part of A2Ethics’ first-annual high school case competition, where it won an honorable mention. Cisneros, Makar-Limanov and Seidl also won 1st place in the competition for a separate case on the ethics of parenting.

The case delves into the details of the deer cull in Ann Arbor, which was implemented in 2015, and aims to reduce the deer population in the area because of concerns over biodiversity and ecosystem imbalance. The policy has faced significant opposition and protests. The case study requires Ethics Bowl contestants to consider how animal rights and obligations toward nonhuman animals interplay with human responsibilities to support biodiversity, safety, and the interests of humans inhabiting the land. It ends with a simple question: should the city continue the cull?

Cisneros said the case was inspired by his personal interest in the deer cull.

“On the inside I am a hippie, I love huggin' trees and animals of all kinds,” he said. “I had been loosely following the deer cull before my introduction to the Ethics Bowl and at first disliked the cull. Then after doing the Ethics Bowl, I wanted to go back to this thing I intuitively disliked and revisit it with reasoning. One thing I hope that kids take away is that while they may be considered "Higher" vs. "Lower" in a few aspects, taking a life, or lives should be thought about. While the quality/ability of the lives may be different, they are both still lives.”

Seidl, a senior, and co-founder of the Huron Ethics Bowl team, echoed his sentiments.

“I want people that read this case to think not just about a particular animal control policy, but about the assumptions about animals' rights and the moral weight underpinning it,” he said.

Huron High School teacher Katie Jones, coach of the school’s Ethics Bowl team, said she thought what stood out about the case was how realistic it was — and the hard work students put into it.

“There’s nothing hypothetical about this case,” Jones said. “Rather it’s an issue that has captured the attention of hundreds (and maybe thousands) of residents of Ann Arbor over the past few years and produced heated arguments in person, online, and at City Council meetings.  Miguel’s case is a perfect example of how more work and education and conversation on ethics as a discipline can — and should — inform our policy choices.”

Overall, Makar-Limanov said, the experience of participating in the Ethics Bowl, and the case-writing competition in particular, has been rewarding for all three students.

“I've learned a lot about ethical theories, and about all sorts of moral dilemmas,” she said. “And I think – I hope — that I've become a better person because of it. As for the writing competition, we mostly have Ms. Jones to thank. She was the one sending us daily reminders, among other forms of motivation.  I'm so happy that we ended up doing it; it was really a great experience.”

The National High School Ethics Bowl is the culmination of a year of competition between high school teams participating in regional contests in twenty-six states and the District of Columbia. During the Bowl competitions, students tackle ethical quandaries by presenting and defending their original analyses of a wide array of case studies, among them issues in medicine, business, sport and politics. The Bowl is not designed to pit one idea against another, but rather to encourage students to consider differing viewpoints and flex their analytical skills. The Michigan High School Ethics Bowl is a partnership between A2Ethics and the University of Michigan Department of Philosophy Outreach program. The winning Michigan team goes on to represent the state at the National Bowl held annually at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. The current Michigan Ethics Bowl champion is Wayne Memorial High School.  

To read “The Culling,” selected for regional case competitions taking place around the country this fall, visit the National High School Ethics Bowl site here. For more information about the Michigan High School Ethics Bowl, visit www.a2ethics.org or contact Jeanine DeLay at jadelay@a2ethics.org.