Monthly Archives: February 2016

Thinking Global: BYU Political Review January 2016

BYU Political Review, January 2016

BYU Political Review, January 2016

As we kick off a particularly tumultuous presidential election year, we feel a palpable shift toward domestic policy issues and away from international problems (unless they are related to terror or immigration). The recent passing of conservative Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia will only amplify this trend, with President Obama’s political legacy and America’s sharp partisan divide hanging in the balance.

However, the first 2016 issue of BYU Political Review draws attention to many significant international events that are often glazed over in our 24-hour news cycle. From the editor and senior at BYU, Andrew Jensen, “We’ve dedicated this issue of the Political Review to exploring current events across the world. Our staff writers and student contributors have done an excellent job writing about some of the most essential global developments and events that are shaping humanity’s future.”

The review considers issues from Iranian politics to the implications of both exporting and importing democratic ideals. One student, Soren J. Schmidt, penned his opinion of the Syrian refugee crisis and subsequent potential American policies, while adding compelling statistics about the current refugee screening process.

“Since 9/11, the US has admitted 750,000 refugees from various war-torn regions. Of those, a total of two have ever been associated with terrorist activity, and even then only indirectly,” Schmidt writes. “By any measure, that is a remarkable rate of success—indicative, I think, of both the usually innocent intentions of those fleeing conflict and of the care already being taken to sort out the bad eggs.”

He continues framing the international matter in domestic terms, but broadens from policy discussion to general American ideology. Schmidt draws on what he believes are core American values to dispel the secondary partisan rhetoric of fear.

“This commitment to the protection of the innocent is critical to the core principles of this country, but I’m afraid that fear and the pressures of partisan polarization are causing many to marginalize it. Doing so might produce a short-term political gain, but it is ultimately a long-term loss of the values for which I believe we stand.”

By contrast, contributor Samantha Hawkins explores the Paris Climate Change Conference through a global lens. She acknowledges the significant role of the United States in agreements of this sort, but doesn’t stop at Congressional deadlock. Hawkins orients the reader with a history of both past policies and scientific conversations, and then moves forward with the terms of the agreement.

“Global climate change talks have been going on for decades, but nothing significant has ever come out of them, in part due to opposition from Congress, the lack of legally binding agreements, and the exclusion of developing countries such as India and China. At the Paris Climate Change Conference, the pledges were designed to emphasize participation rather than ambition, and to reflect actual scientific recommendations.”

Whether or not you agree with the contributors, the Review includes powerful assessments of global issues. According to the editor, all BYU students should embrace the university motto, becoming well versed in the events of the world.

“As students of the world we must become globally conscious and refuse to hold on to ignorant or myopic views,” Jensen said. “This world is full of billions of our brothers and sisters, and if we are to go forth and serve, we simply cannot afford to ignore them.”

BYU Political Review is the university’s only political op-ed publication. It began in 2006, and publishes the works of student contributors, staff writers, and even elected officials. If you would like to submit an article to be reviewed for publishing, visit here. To connect online, visit politicalreview.byu.edu.

BYU Political Affairs Society at the Capitol

Members of the Salt Lake and student chapters of BYU PAS meet together at state capitol.

Members of the Salt Lake and student chapters of BYU PAS meet together at state capitol.

Last week students and professionals met together in the Utah State Capitol for a day of mentoring and networking. BYUPAS Salt Lake Chapter hosted the event for BYU students, drawing in experts and professionals who help govern Utah.

The students began by touring the building, from the Governor’s ceremonial office filled with furniture made of trees uprooted by Utah’s 1999 tornado, to the operating house and senate chambers.

“I’m not a political science major, but seeing all of this is really cool,” said BYU student Lucas Farnsworth in front of the building’s Brigham Young statue. Following his graduation, Farnsworth hopes to attend medical school.

Following the tour, a panel addressed the students and took questions. The distinguished group included a journalist, legislative assistant, lawyer, state representative, and lobbyist, each of whom had unique perspective about local government.

Utah State Representative, Becky Edwards, spoke about the importance of diversity in government.

“It’s really important to have a variety of perspectives. As I’ve gone around the state, on occasion I hear a perspective on an issue and think ‘wow that really does not seem like… certainly this is not what the public thinks on this issue… it cannot possibly be!’” Edwards said about her experience as a representative. “But then you visit neighborhoods and you talk to people in different parts of your own district and you realize that the beauty of the system is that voices are so varied and so interested in the issues that it adds a robustness to the discussion. We make better policies when we listen.”

Kristen Olsen, the panel’s legal authority, also spoke about the value of diversity, but a diversity of work experience.

“I did a lot of study abroads, I worked abroad, and I basically just took any fun opportunity that came up. And if no fun opportunities came up, I created them. During my master’s program I developed a research project I could do in the West Bank in Jerusalem and I did it. And while all of these experiences definitely slowed me down, I don’t regret them at all because those experiences helped me get the most out of law school and my legal career.”

Students then had the opportunity to “speed-network” with their choice 10 of professionals in attendance.

BYU students touring the Utah Capitol. The Salt Lake Chapter of BYU PAS hosted a day at the Capitol complete with speed networking. BYU students touring the Utah Capitol. The Salt Lake Chapter of BYU PAS hosted a day at the Capitol complete with speed networking. BYU students touring the Utah Capitol. The Salt Lake Chapter of BYU PAS hosted a day at the Capitol complete with speed networking. BYU students touring the Utah Capitol. The Salt Lake Chapter of BYU PAS hosted a day at the Capitol complete with speed networking. BYU students touring the Utah Capitol. The Salt Lake Chapter of BYU PAS hosted a day at the Capitol complete with speed networking. BYU students touring the Utah Capitol. The Salt Lake Chapter of BYU PAS hosted a day at the Capitol complete with speed networking. BYU students touring the Utah Capitol. The Salt Lake Chapter of BYU PAS hosted a day at the Capitol complete with speed networking. BYU students touring the Utah Capitol. The Salt Lake Chapter of BYU PAS hosted a day at the Capitol complete with speed networking. BYU students touring the Utah Capitol. The Salt Lake Chapter of BYU PAS hosted a day at the Capitol complete with speed networking. BYU students touring the Utah Capitol. The Salt Lake Chapter of BYU PAS hosted a day at the Capitol complete with speed networking.
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BYU students touring the Utah Capitol. The Salt Lake Chapter of BYU PAS hosted a day at the Capitol complete with speed networking.

“This was an invaluable experience in helping me decide what directions I will take in my life. Being able to talk to real-life experts and receive their advice influenced my decision making process greatly,” said BYU student, Matt Benson.

Another student, Thomas Richins said, “What once seemed impossible for me, is now very possible. I went into the Capitol with a desire to learn, but with little knowledge, and left the Capitol with a new sense of purpose. The most important thing I took away from this experience was a greater appreciation for government.”

Throughout the day, trusted community leaders came together to inspire a new band of college students, stated well by Rep. Edwards during her remarks.

“If I were to leave a plea or invitation with all of you it would be that public service is called public service for a reason: it is intended to be a wide range of people from the populace who decide for a season in their life they are going to serve the people of their community.”