Beedie students earn podium place at Eller ethics case competition

Oct 26, 2016
Beedie undergraduate students Rhythm Tang (left) and Sophie Dee took home the silver medal at the 2016 Eller Collegiate Ethics Case Competition.

Beedie undergraduate students Rhythm Tang (left) and Sophie Dee took home the silver medal at the 2016 Eller Collegiate Ethics Case Competition.

A team of Beedie School of Business undergraduate students took home the silver at the 14th annual Eller Collegiate Ethics Case Competition, held at the University of Arizona from October 20-22.

Beedie undergraduate students Sophie Dee and Rhythm Tang beat teams from 23 other universities to take second place at the prestigious competition, which challenges students with real world, thought provoking ethical dilemmas in business.

The case presented this year was Apple vs. the FBI in the 2015 San Bernardino attacks. The FBI requested that Apple unlock the phone of shooter Syed Farook, who was one of the people responsible for killing 14 people during the attack.

Apple refused to unlock the phone, stating that it would set a precedent that would allow the FBI to access personal information at a whim. The case opened a national dialogue on how American telecommunications companies and the government should proceed in the future.

Dee and Tang worked through the case tirelessly for the two weeks prior to the competition.

“We did a lot of research, especially because we were a Canadian team and we didn’t know the American legal system, so we made sure we were very prepared,” says Rhythm. “The most interesting part was being able to represent our school and our education in a foreign environment. The Canadian schools brought a completely different perspective to their recommendations, which was really eye opening.”

The two were prepared for not only the 30-minute presentation, but also a 10-minute questioning period where they were posed unrehearsed questions regarding their recommendations.

Their approach to the issue set them apart from the largely American competition. They concluded that the FBI made the right decision at the time, but recommended that the company had a responsibility to help in the future.

They further recommended that telecommunication companies and the government be proactive and implement laws regarding access to personal devices, so that court battles won’t slow down justice.

The Eller competition challenged Dee and Tang to look at the problem from not only a business perspective, but also a human perspective.

“Our mindset changed throughout the course of the deliberation period,” says Dee. “At first we thought of it from a business perspective and decided that Apple did the right thing. That changed when I began to think about what I would want if I were kidnapped, and Apple could save my life by unlocking my phone. What would I want them to do?”

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