The Catholic University of America

 Law and Public Policy Program Students Honored at Annual Reception

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On Sunday, April 26th, the 2015 CUA Law and Public Policy Program Certificate Candidates and The Eleanore Dulin and James Clanton Haynes Memorial Fellows were honored at an annual reception designed to congratulate students on the innovation and excellence of their public policy service projects.  Students’ advocacy efforts focused on a broad spectrum of issues including education, mental health care, voter registration, and affordable housing in Washington, D.C.

Professor Roger Colinvaux, director of the Law and Public Policy Program; acknowledged the six students for their advocacy projects:

Mike Bzozowski explained his belief that some law schools are not adequately addressing mental health issues, but also that students do not understand treatment options. Mike’s project culminated in a roundtable discussion at the law school, bringing together non-profits, employment attorneys, and the local bar association to speak with students about the stigma facing mental illness and available treatment options.

Brittani Everson-Riley identified solutions to combat the over-identification of special education needs in African American students in the District. Brittani believes that the best way to reform special education is by changing the definition of emotional disturbance to take into account cultural and ethnic differences, and by increasing cultural awareness in classrooms. Brittani’s campaign focused on legislation drafting and educating the public about disproportionality.  

Megan Gibson’s LPP project focused on student-athlete unionization after the National Labor Relations Board’s regional decision allowing the Northwestern University football team to collectively bargain.  Megan chose this topic because of her interest in sports and the apparent gap between what universities promise and how players are sometimes treated.  Megan is concerned that many student-athletes at Division I schools may be passed through classes just to remain eligible, leaving student-athletes unprepared for the real world after college athletics.  Megan’s goal was to identify a way to protect the student-athletes and give them a way to fill in the gaps left by the universities and NCAA. 

Victoria Hernandez’ LPP project focused on D.C.'s Inclusionary Zoning Program and its exemptions - the program mandates that new apartment complexes must set aside a certain number of units as affordable units. Based on statistics from previous years, it seemed to Victoria that too many exemptions were made, thus, D.C. was losing too many affordable units. Victoria spent the year researching this program and speaking with affordable housing advocates.

Trieste Lockwood worked toward codification of a voter pre-registration law in Virginia, which would allow 16 year olds to register to vote.  She found that a pre-registration law would 1) increase civic engagement; 2) increase youth voter turnout; and 3) allow the Commonwealth to better comply with cross-state databases that identify voters.  In light of her policy research, Trieste was granted the opportunity to assist the Fair Elections Legal Network on a report.  She is currently analyzing state absentee ballot policies and ballot accessibility to those with special needs.

Maura McCoy’s LPP project focused on the Common Core State Standards and their implementation in D.C. Public Schools. Maura believes that teachers, students, and parents have struggled with the new standards and the stress that comes with high stakes standardized testing. Maura thinks that teachers have not been given the time and training necessary to adjust to the standards and should not immediately be held accountable for their students’ performance on the new PARCC standardized test. Maura reached out to stakeholders to urge a delay in the use of student test scores in teacher evaluations and to raise awareness of the need for increased and improved professional development.

In addition, Brittani N. Everson-Riley, Victoria P.D. Hernandez, and Christiana Trieste Lockwood were presented with Dulin Haynes Fellowships, established in 1985 in memory of Eleanore Dulin and her husband, the Hon. James Clanton Haynes, an alumnus of the Columbus School of Law, who served as an administrative law judge in the United States government. The Dulin Haynes Memorial Fellowship is awarded each year to one or more students in the Law and Public Policy Program who are in their last year of law school. The award is based on demonstrated commitment to a career in public service; academic and professional achievement during law school; and service to the community, the law school, and the Law and Public Policy Program.