This year I lead one of the key branches of SIG’s Programming committee–Policy Lunches. Our mission is to foster intimate discussion between students and public servants.
One such event we held fall quarter was titled Race & Ethnicity in American Politics: A Policy Lunch with Steve Phillips ‘86. In the spirit of understanding the impact of race on the election, we collaborated with the Black Student Union (BSU) to craft an event with diverse perspectives that ultimately enriched the conversation. Some key topics discussed included America’s shifting demographics and its effect on elections, as well as the various strategies Secretary Clinton and then-candidate Trump used to attract minority voters. Students discussed and debated these strategies with alumnus Steve Phillips, founder of Democracy in Color, a multimedia platform on race, politics, and the New American Majority.
The conversation quickly became more complex. Students discussed critical ideas such as white privilege, the role of non-minorities acting as allies in the fight for racial equality, and what it means to be a leader in the age of Trump. Through this Policy Lunch, SIG and BSU were able to facilitate a normally difficult conversation. This is the essence of Policy Lunches. Our events throughout the year, from a conversation with Egyptian comedian and writer Bassem Youssef, to lunch with Beth Van Schaack, former Deputy to the Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes Issues at the State Department, we have opened critical spaces for dialogue. I firmly believe we can only embark upon change, legislative or otherwise, when we sit down and actually listen to each other. Through SIG, we can open the door to dialogue–the first step in policy change.
–Samuel Feineh, ‘19