Graduate students propose public policy ethics expectations

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Lianne Frick/Staff

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While members of the local and campus community have rallied and marched against Donald Trump’s ascent to the presidency, graduate students at the Goldman School of Public Policy, or GSPP, have composed a professional oath for public policy practitioners in response to the surprising results.

Members and allies of the newly formed Intersectional Identity Coalition — a group composed of the leaders of the GSPP affinity groups — announced their professional oath Wednesday during the Q&A section of a post-election panel.

“We’re the No. 1 policy school in the country,” said GSPP second-year Madelyn Gelpi. “We have incredible power to do something good here.”

Reading round-robin style, group members presented the oath — which stipulates expectations for ethical behavior among practitioners and students of public policy — and asked that Dean of GSPP Henry Brady take the oath, among other requests.

Dean Brady did not respond to the student coalition directly but said they made “an inspiring statement.”

According to Gelpi, the day after the election, the coalition gathered to make a safe space for leaders of marginalized groups and to address how to move forward.

“(Trump) unified us,” Gelpi said. “We want everyone to be there together to fight for the good of the world.”

The oath stated that their goal is to uphold these principles and that the coalition commits to embody these ideals of community.

Students taking the oath pledge to hold themselves accountable for the impacts of their actions regardless of their intentions, to be transparent in their work and to acknowledge the biases they bring to their work as policy makers and analysts.

“We echo our devotion to the values of diversity, inclusion, and recognition of the significance of each human life,” the coalition’s oath stated.

The coalition is asking for feedback on the oath, in which students vowed to reaffirm their faith in human rights, speak truth to power, hold awareness of privileges and fight cynicism in their work. They also asked that GSPP make a public statement condemning Trump’s rhetoric, include a statement of diversity and inclusion to the main page of the school’s website and add an ethics course to the core curriculum.

During the event, panelist and associate professor of public policy Rucker Johnson, who was unaware that the coalition would be announcing the oath, spoke about the effects a Trump Administration will likely have on social and economic policy for racial and ethnic minorities.

“We are together and unified, but unified doesn’t mean we have the same perspective,” Johnson said. “(The students) reaffirm many of the things we’re doing and also challenge us to strive to do better.”

Contact Aleah Jennings-Newhouse at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @ajn_dc.

Correction(s):
A headline accompanying a previous version of this article incorrectly stated the Goldman School of Public Policy had adopted ethics expectations for its students. In fact, students in the Goldman School proposed the expectations.

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