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Students Open Window on Policy World
“Statesmen, Scholars, Students,” reads the tagline for the James A.
U.S. ambassador to the United commit time and the candidate’s
Baker III Institute for Public Policy, and the first two elements have Nations and chief architect of the
degree of previous involvement
been evident since the institute’s inception. Undergraduate engage-
1995 Dayton Peace Agreement in events. The committee also
ment, however, was somewhat slower in coming. But a group of
that ended the war in Bosnia; looked for ethnic and gender
James M. Derham, deputy assistant diversity as well as for a wide
interested students has made a move to change that.
secretary of state for western hemi- range of academic and research
sphere affairs; and Clark T. Randt, interests.
Jr., the U.S. ambassador to China. After a lengthy review and in-
Calling themselves the Baker In- to the institute. Djerejian was very
“We have rigorous debate on terview process, they finally set-
stitute Student Forum, they are responsive to the idea and offered
every event that we propose,” says tled on three new members who
dedicated to fostering student support and office space, and BISF
Mary Catherine Dillman, a junior joined in March: Dillman and
involvement in public policy officially began the following fall
who joined the forum in spring sophomores Noorain Khan and
through events designed to ad- semester.
2003. “In addition to considering Jo Kent. Khan was glad to be
dress the questions and interests
whether the interest is here at Rice, asked to participate. “I attended
of Rice students. “We initiated the student forum to
we’re really concerned about being a lot of the events earlier in the
The Baker Institute Student allow students more access and
nonpartisan. We’re also careful to year,” she says, “and it was really
Forum (BISF) was not born more involvement with the Baker
take into account how a particular exciting for me because the Bak-
full-blown but emerged from Institute,” says Kolodny. “The insti-
speaker or event fits in with all the er Institute and their resources
the efforts of a couple of infor- tute had been hosting events for a
events that we or the Baker Insti- and visitors really drew me to
mal student groups. One was long time, but there hadn’t been any
tute have held.” After the mem- Rice. We’re very fortunate to
an essay committee initiated in student involvement in the planning
bers agree on an event, they send have the opportunity to attend
spring 2002 by Alan Kolodny, or a student emphasis, and often
a proposal to the group’s faculty these kinds of events, but I was
then a sophomore. He was soon students weren’t represented in the
advisor, Allen Matusow, who also is really disappointed when there
joined by fellow classmate Jared audience.”
the associate director for academic weren’t student-only events or
Hubbard and freshman students
programs for the institute. From when students didn’t have access
Narayan Mulukutla, Dustin Ste- In addition to ensuring student
there, it goes to Djerejian for final to all these events. So I wanted
phens, and Navin Vij. “At the seating, the forum also proposes
approval. to be a part of this new experi-
time, a lot of us felt that there events. “All our events are done
The student forum also plays ence for students. Also, I have
wasn’t enough student involve- with the institute’s approval,”
other roles within the institute. a lot of interests, and I thought
ment in the Baker Institute,” Kolodny continues. “After they
“Even when we have nothing to do that I’d like to advance them
Kolodny says. “So we held a sign off on them, they arrange the
with the formation of an event,” through exposure to new ideas.”
forum for students to come and funding and logistics and so forth.”
Kolodny says, “they’ll use us as an BISF events also prompted
express their feelings about the “We started with Thomas Fried-
outreach agency to bring students Dillman to apply. “It was an
institute.” man,” says Mulukutla. The event
into the audience.” BISF also host- opportunity to get involved and
By the end of the semester, was an open question-and-answer
ed a students-only event in con- make a difference in the orga-
the essay committee learned of session between Friedman, a Pu-
junction with the Baker Institute’s nization and its leadership and
another group lead by fresh- litzer Prize-winning foreign affairs
10th anniversary celebration held what it’s going to do for Rice,”
man Shawn Leventhal that was columnist for the New York Times,
last fall. she says. “And I was impressed
promoting a similar agenda. and students regarding the world
In January 2003, the executive that all the executive committee
They joined forces with Leven- after September 11. Since then, the
committee put out a call for new members are really interested in
thal and freshman Emery Ellis, student forum has hosted about
members, and the application they the student body and the stu-
and that summer, they met with 20 events featuring, among many
circulated brought in 48 responses. dent forum itself rather than just
Baker Institute director Edward others, Sir Christopher Meyer, the
Two of the criteria in selecting doing this for personal interest.
Djerejian to propose the idea of British ambassador to the United
new members were a willingness to I think that’s something that’s
a formal student group attached States; Richard Holbrooke, former
14 rice sallyport
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