Student think tank debuts

Roosevelt Institution encourages involvement

Three authors featured in the policy journal of the Roosevelt Institution, the country's first think tank run by college students, spoke at a press conference Monday about issues they would like addressed by Congress and legislators.

The Roosevelt Institution was founded to give college students the opportunity to see their ideas published and spoken about in Congress and other influential centers in Washington, said Quinn Wilhelmi, a junior from Stanford University and Roosevelt's executive director.

Lindsay Miller, the Washington coordinator for the Institution, hosted the conference, which drew a crowd of about 60 students in the Caucus Room of the Cannon Office Building. The event was a "celebration of how far we've come in such a short time," she said.

Despite this being the first time she has heard about the Roosevelt Institution and the Roosevelt Review, Madison Iannone, a freshman in the School of International Service, said she was impressed with the review and the Institution "had a bright future ahead of it."

Daniel Maree, a freshman majoring in CLEG said he could see how impassioned the speakers were.

Wilhelmi said the students behind the Institution felt college students could contribute more than their physical presence and their energy to politics, and they can contribute ideas that are just as well researched as those that come from professional think tanks. The only difference between a think tank and a campus is that think tanks have public relations to help publish their ideas in the halls of power, he said.

However, it is "key not only getting universities to work together, but they must come together nationally," he said.

Doug Bailey, political consultant and founder of The Hotline, a political journal that covers media coverage of campaigns and issues, congratulated the Institute on "putting ideals ahead of party" and for having the courage to "speak truth to power."

Jenny Tolan, an author featured in the review, presented her research on married women in South Africa and HIV/AIDS, noting that married women in South Africa are especially susceptible to AIDS, which goes against the common perception that marriage helps fight AIDS.

Because women in South Africa have yet to attain true equality, they have less control over their sex lives than married women in other countries, Tolan said. With husbands traveling to far off mining towns to work and not always remaining faithful to their wives, the risk for AIDS for married women rises.

David Felix, another featured author, presented his research on the United States' plans to extract oil from Alaskan National Wildlife Refuge.

Anthony Ortega, a featured author, spoke of the need to expand medical coverage to children in America without health insurance. People without health insurance not only have problems paying for emergency services, but they cannot pay for more simple problems like doctor checkups and glasses, he said. Ortega implored federal and state governments to do more to expand coverage to the 8.5 million children in the country without health insurance.

After the speaking presentations, Quinn Wilhelmi stopped to take a few questions about his role with the Institution and where he believes it can go.

In response to whether or not he thought people would call the Institution a liberal group even though it calls itself non-partisan and progressive, Wilhelmi said that he views the term progressive "as a way of innovative thinking to assure government serves all citizens" and not as a euphemism for liberal.

The group will not focus on issues relating directly to college students such as tuition and textbook prices, Wilhelmi said. Instead, the mission of the Institution is to take discussions that happen in classrooms everyday and "use classes to provide big answers," he said.

"The Yale chapter did an economic study on the benefits of gay marriage to the state of Connecticut and found there would be economic benefits for the state," he said.

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