Anyone But Laura: The Scene's alternative choices for Wonk of the Year
Clarification: The following article reflects the opinions of the writer, not the entire paper. For student opinion on Wonk of the Year, please read the accompanying news article.
Some students and observers were unhappy with this year’s Wonk of the Year winner, Laura Bush.
American University @AUSG names Laura Bush "WONK of the year" leaving more Qs on what a WONK even is any how Bush is relevant to wonkihood
— Kendall Breitman (@KendallBreitman) February 23, 2015
Ah yes! Laura Bush as Wonk of The Year. I have a lot of questions about this, but first, it's 2015. Can we get rid of Wonk Of The Year yet?
— Leslie Strain (@leslie_strain) February 23, 2015
The Scene has compiled a list of candidates who we think should have won this year:
1. Kirsten Gillibrand
Flickr.com - Vassar College
In 2014: Proposed legislation that would take reports sexual assault and rape out of the chain of command by having military lawyers, rather than commanders, decide whether or not to prosecute military personnel accused of rape or assault and cosponsored a bill that would require colleges to provide more resources for victims of assault and to take disciplinary action on offenders.
In 2015: Plans to once again push the Military Justice Improvement Act, which was stopped by a filibuster last year.
Why they’d work: Gillibrand has been working hard all year as a junior member of Congress and is passionate about her chosen issue; she plans to continue pursuing her goal in the coming year and sets an example for aspiring politicians.
2. Chris Hamby
Flickr.com - Aronson Awards
In 2014: Conducted a year long investigation that exposed corruption in the coal industry, effectively forcing them to pay benefits to injured coal miners and their families.
In 2015: Joined BuzzFeed’s Investigative Desk.
Why they’d work: His dedication finding the truth led him to uncover a story that helped many families and he still has plenty of new opportunities ahead of him at a growing internet news site.
3. Muriel Bowser
flickr.com- Alan Bowser
In 2014: The AU alum was elected mayor of DC.
In 2015: Supports free Metro fare for students (!)
Why they’d work: She got her Master’s degree at AU, so she is one of our own. She would also be the first person of color to win the Wonk of the Year Award, something many students have been calling for.
4. Michelle Obama
flickr.com - American History
In 2014: Fought to make healthier lunch options available to children in public schools and healthier options available to those in the Women, Infants, and Children Program.
In 2015: Introduced the Michelle Obama Nutritional Act in Congress, which would require the nutrition standards of lunches served in schools to be the same as those served under the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program.
Why they’d work: Michelle Obama’s has been working hard to make school lunches healthier since 2011 and despite controversy she will keep pushing further this year.
5. Hillary Clinton
flickr.com - U.S. Department of State
In 2014: Advocated for ending the wage gap between men and women and condemned the use of excessive force by police officers.
In 2015: getting ready for a presidential run in 2016(?)
Why they’d work: Many AU students are already excited about the prospect of Hillary Clinton running for President and she is an amazing speaker.
6. Ta-Nehisi Coates
flickr.com - LIVE from NYPL
In 2014: Wrote the think piece “The Case for Reparations” for The Atlantic, sparking a discussion about race and privilege in the United States.
Why they’d work: Coates was able to start a national conversation, something many people at AU hope to do someday. He is driven and confident and could offer a unique perspective.
A previous version of this article exaggerated the amount of people unhappy with the decision to name Laura Bush as Wonk of the Year.