By Rick Rivera, MBA/MPP candidate 2018
Welcome to a new year with the Policy Forum.
We are so glad to be back, reorganized and energized after a long summer hiatus. While, as a student-led publication, we’re closely tied to the academic year, a large part of why we’ve been gone so long is the transition of the vast majority of our editorial team. In a two-year Masters’ program, it’s not unusual to lose a large portion of any organization’s leadership come graduation, and their vast institutional knowledge along with them.
Rebecca, Alysa, Meghan, you were all amazing, we will miss you, and we hope we can do justice to what you’ve built.
Besides the growing pains and the academic year, however, we took the summer off because it’s generally a safe thing to do. Nothing much happens during the summer. State and national legislatures wrap up their business and go into recess. The prototypical American family packs up the kids and the dog and go on vacation, while the somewhat more realistic American family busies itself juggling full-time work, the kids being home from school, and trying to move as little as possible in order to beat the heat.
Even the news seems to come at a slower pace, with many major political and world events mercifully holding off until after the dog days are over. The War in Afghanistan began in October of 2001. The Great Recession started in December of 2007. Occupy kicked off in late September of 2011. And, for what it’s worth, the barometers of progressive(ish) sentiment that are the Daily Show and Last Week Tonight usually take some time off over the summer months.
But summer isn’t always quiet. The break-in at the Watergate hotel happened in June of 1972. The police killing of Michael Brown, and the subsequent militarized law enforcement response to the community of Ferguson’s pain, happened in early August. The era-defining attack on the World Trade Center took place on a warm, clear morning the second week of September.
It became increasingly clear, from that late spring morning of graduation until orientation just a few days ago, that the summer of 2017 was never going to be a quiet one. That, for all the record-setting heat across the entire US, this was nonetheless one of the darkest summers in living memory. The political and social climate of our country at this point in history virtually guaranteed that any time taken to relax would be an exercise in willful ignorance (or perhaps self-care).
Much of this can be easily laid at the feet of the Trump administration. There was no real need to fire FBI Director James Comey in May. The drama of the attempted ACA repeal in July was political theater. That tense week in August dominated by the specter of nuclear war with North Korea came from an off-the cuff remark. The end of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (announced as we write this piece) plays to an ever-shrinking base. Many of America’s political wounds in these last few months have been self-inflicted. Many, but not all.
Terrorist bombings at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester were followed shortly by a lone-wolf shooting attack on members of Congress. Emboldened White Supremacists all over the country spread violence, cost us the life of an ally, and engendered an insidious narrative of false equivalence. Hurricane Harvey exacted its immense toll on the lives and livelihoods of Texas as a result of a perfect storm of climate change denial and political negligence, only to be followed by the even-stronger Hurricane Irene that, at this very moment, bears down on the Caribbean and the Southeast.
It has not been a quiet summer. We do not live in a quiet time.
The Policy Forum is a small student publication at a peaceful women’s college in Northern California. We do not want to overstate our importance or self-aggrandize. But if there ever was a time we needed the kind of writing featured here, and the kind of students at the Lorry I. Lokey School of Business and Public Policy, it is now.
Let’s be clear. The Policy Forum’s mission is not important because we have a large readership, or because the Policy Forum itself has the power to enact any lasting change. It is important because the students of politics, law, economics, social science and business that come through these doors are not just future decision-makers, but future decision-makers of a breed apart from those steering our world.
Lokey’s students are compassionate, ethical thought-leaders who have the ability to envision a finer, more equitable future, while remaining grounded in the realities of data, politics, and human nature. We do not need a cost-benefit analysis for equity and justice, but we are aware that we may be called to conduct such an analysis ourselves someday. We can, and will, shape the world.
The Policy Forum is here to do its part as a venue for discussion, as a place to crystallize thoughts, and as, well, a forum for drawing lines in the sand.
We know that you, the students of the Lorry I. Lokey School of Business and Public Policy have a lot to say. The world needs to hear your voices now more than ever, and we’re here to do our small part to raise your voices. Summer is over. It’s time to get to work.
Join us, won’t you?
To submit to The Policy Forum, please contact us at ThePolicyForum@gmail.com.