Hannah Ketring was still shaking off sleep when she walked into Oklahoma Christian University's Harvey Business Center a few minutes before 6 a.m. Thursday.
In a few minutes, she and five of her friends would sit down around a conference table to discuss the finer points of Indian patent law. But first, there was coffee.
Ketring, 21, is a member of one of OC's two ethics teams. The teams meet at 6 a.m. every Thursday — one of the only times that would work for everyone's schedule. During the practices, the two teams hash out their answers to ethical questions and discuss how they arrived at those conclusions.
The two teams, the Eagles and the Talons, claimed the two top spots at the Oklahoma Business Ethics Foundation's annual Statewide Student Ethics Challenge last month. Now, the teams are preparing for a regional ethics competition Nov. 16 in San Antonio.
Competing in ethics is a bit like debate. In debate, two teams are given a question regarding a national or international issue and then build a case for their answer. The two teams take opposing sides and try to convince judges that their side is best.
In competitive ethics, the two teams may reach the same answer to the question. Judges score the teams based on the arguments they present, said Jeff Simmons, the teams' faculty adviser. So if two teams reach the same answer, the team that built the stronger case for that argument wins, he said.
During Thursday's practice, the teams debated an Indian patent dispute from earlier this year in which Swiss pharmaceutical company Novartis lost a case against an Indian firm that was producing a low-cost version of the company's cancer drug, Glivec.
On Thursday, the two teams took opposing sides in the case. One side argued the Indian firm's lower-cost product represented the greater good because it saved lives, while the other team countered that protecting Novartis' intellectual property rights would encourage pharmaceutical companies to invest in new drugs, which could also save lives in the future.