Hendrix Students Publish Policy Proposals

CONWAY, Ark. (April 1, 2013) - Three Hendrix students have written policy proposals for the 2013 Roosevelt Institute Campus Network 10 Ideas Journal published today and available here.

Student proposal authors include:

  • Meredith Morrison, a sophomore from Greenfield, Mo.
  • Jacob Porter, a senior from Austin, Texas
  • Allison Hudgens, a senior from Hot Springs, Ark.

Roosevelt Institute Campus Network is a national student organization founded in 2004 in response to the deep and pervasive sense that young people were overlooked in the policymaking process.

The 10 Ideas Journal represents unique ideas from 83 authors at 30 different institutions.

The 10 Ideas authors will present their policy proposals on Saturday at the Hendrix Roosevelt chapter's Solutions for the South April 6 – 7 at Hendrix which will bring together students from several schools, activists young and old, and policy maker, to illuminate the South's most pressing challenges and reveal ways in which young people can already are making a difference.

The Hendrix student proposals were originally crafted this fall in a policy writing seminar held in the fall semester with several in-person meetings where the three students, along with Hendrix freshmen Joseph Korkames and Judith Brown, all brought ideas and helped each other develop them into policy proposals. The seminar was an Odyssey project sponsored by Dr. Peter Gess, director of international programs and politics professor.

Hudgens' proposal, included in the journal's health care section, is called "Utilizing SNAP to Reduce the Prevalence of Obesity" and advocates for the creation of an opt-in program within the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) that increases participants' funding while requiring that their SNAP dollars be budgeted according to USDA dietary guidelines.

Porter's piece is called "Providing Broadband Internet Access via Arkansas Municipalities," which encourages municipal utilities in Arkansas to offer broadband services to foster economic development in critical fields requiring innovative technology. His proposal appears in the journal's economic development section.

Morrison's proposal "Supporting Rural Education by Relieving Student Loans" is included in the journal's education section. Her piece promotes a loan repayment program to persuade qualified teachers to work in rural school districts teaching honors-level courses.

Her proposal was shared with the United States Students Association (USSA), which included it in the New Deal for Students, a collaborative campaign between students in the Roosevelt Institute Campus Network and USSA to change government policy on student debt.

"The proposal was inspired by my own education in rural southwest Missouri. During my high school years, my district suffered from severe budget cuts and even lost a few teachers. The loss decreased the number of honors-level and dual-credit courses," Morrison said. "Also, after some research, I realized that there is an achievement gap between rural and urban students.  Discrepancies, ranging from budget to achievement to low teacher salaries, sparked the idea of a student-loan forgiveness program. The program is aimed at qualified rural teachers who teach honors-courses. Such a program should attract more qualified teachers to rural areas, where they are currently needed the most."

"My goals for the campaign are to raise awareness about the needs of US public education, and hopefully inspire a policy that caters to rural education while alleviating student loan debts," she added.

According to the campaign, two-thirds of college students graduate with an average debt of $26,500 and federal student loan balances jumped 97 percent between 2007 and 2012.

In this report, students outline arguments for a better system of paying for higher education. Policy recommendations range from tax incentives for students committed to staying in their home states to raising the federal minimum range to supporting new graduates to teach in rural areas.

More information on the program is available here.

Founded in 1876, Hendrix College is a national leader in engaged liberal arts and sciences education. For the fifth consecutive year, Hendrix was named one of the country's "Up and Coming" liberal arts colleges by U.S. News and World Report. Hendrix is featured in the 2012 edition of the Princeton Review as one of the country's best 377 colleges, the latest edition of Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think about Colleges, Forbes magazine's annual list of America's Top 650 Colleges, and the 2013 edition of the Fiske Guide to Colleges. Hendrix has been affiliated with the United Methodist Church since 1884. For more information, visit www.hendrix.edu.