Latest edition highlights student-driven policy proposals that show unwavering commitment to progressive policy for the public good
Since the US onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, college students have experienced challenges that fractured the traditional undergraduate experience, with many returning home to complete their academic year entirely through virtual learning. During this time, a renewed racial justice movement saw an outpouring of support and engagement from young people. The movement demanded widespread structural change in response to the unmistakable grip of white supremacy on our systems and society. The overlapping economic, racial, and climate crises demonstrated the need for strengthened public power, leading students to reflect on the local issues affecting their neighbors and to research policy solutions.
Today, the Roosevelt Network—a national network of students, alumni, and staff supporting emerging progressive policymakers and scalable policy campaigns—announced the release of the 13th edition of its annual 10 Ideas journal. The Network received more than 40 college student submissions of proposals for policy changes at the university, local, and state level, demonstrating tenacity and passion from students across the country. The top 10 proposals reflect each author’s strategic awareness of how institutional policymaking can address community needs.
Initially conceived in the fall of 2020, each proposal reflects months of work by the authors. Students developed their proposals entirely virtually—identifying a community problem, researching solutions, and incorporating knowledge and feedback from local organizers and stakeholders—all within the context of the compounding crises impacting our country and its students over the past year. The 2021 journal includes the following proposals:
- Protect SUNY Binghamton students from sexual harassment by requiring professors under consideration for hire to disclose past accusations of sexual harassment or misconduct.
- Decrease the need for out-of-school suspensions, and thereby the racial achievement and attainment gaps, in Missouri by implementing restorative justice practices within the in-school suspension framework.
- Improve voter access for historically underrepresented communities in Massachusetts by making vote-by-mail a permanent option for elections.
Climate and Energy Justice:
- Mitigate health risks caused by local oil well air pollutants in South Los Angeles by monitoring pollution rates with low-cost air quality sensors and blocking oil development when rates surpass levels recommended by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
- Increase sustainability and quality of life in Boston, Massachusetts by ending parking minimums required for new developments in the city and freeing up space for more environmentally friendly projects.
- Improve access to digital devices and support digital skill development for Black and Latinx residents of King County, Washington by implementing a Technology Matching Fund that distributes grants for nonprofit-led digital equity projects.
- Support and protect George Mason University (GMU) students suffering from mental health issues by creating a Mobile Crisis Intervention Team using reallocated funds from the GMU police budget.
- Empower individuals recently released from the Texas foster care system by automatically providing them with a form of identification when they turn 18, thus simplifying the process to apply for government aid.
- Use local education efforts based on the community health worker model to increase knowledge and consumption of folic acid among Hispanic women in Dallas, Texas and decrease rates of infant neural tube defects.
- Support the health of the homeless population in the City of Bakersfield and Kern County, CA by funding the construction and maintenance of public restrooms.
“There is an urgent need for visionary new ideas to lead us out of this moment, yet our focus has been continuously pulled to react to the onslaught of threats,” said Roosevelt Network National Director Katie Kirchner. “At its core, policy is a mechanism for realizing the dreams we have for our communities. The ideas in this journal dream of safety, of justice, of accountability. They respond to the last 15 months and push us beyond our current reality toward something better.”
“10 Ideas gives the next generation of thinkers an opportunity to lead on policy decisions. The journal represents an array of passions, talents, and community knowledge to highlight the most pressing issues in our societies at the campus, local, and state level,” said Nneka Ewulonu, an alum of the Roosevelt Network who will be a legal fellow at SPARK Reproductive Justice NOW starting this fall. “I am always thrilled to be a part of the 10 Ideas process, and to support young people across the country in speaking their truth.”
Following today’s launch, the Roosevelt Network also published the Online 10 Ideas, additional top student policy proposals from 2020. Following a similar process of research and creation, this year’s online proposals include expanding emergency medical coverage for undocumented immigrants in Texas to include life-saving kindey transplant surgery and establishing a grant program that pays for New York City nursing education in exchange for service in the NYC public school system, as a way to improve the health of NYC communities.
About the Roosevelt Network
The Roosevelt Network trains, develops, and supports emerging progressive policymakers, researchers, and advocates across the US, focusing on communities historically denied political power. Found on campuses and in cities across nearly 40 states nationwide, the network is built on the principle that changing who writes the rules can help fulfill the ideals of American democracy and build true public power. The network supports student-led, scalable policy campaigns that fight for the equitable provision, distribution, and accessibility of public goods at the campus, local, and state levels. In addition to its student-led activities, the organization leverages the power of its alumni network—which includes public officials, lawyers, teachers, nonprofit executives, and researchers—to expand opportunities for the next generation of policy leaders. A program of the Roosevelt Institute, the network operates alongside leading economists and political scientists to bring the ideals of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt into the 21st century.