Batten Welcomes New Student Organization to Foster Solution-Driven Policy Conversations

When it comes to discussing issues of policymaking—especially what constitutes good policymaking—Batten students are rarely shy. For the co-founders of Batten’s newest student organization Courageous Conversations in Policy (CCP) Chloe Cohen (MPP’20) and Brandon Velez (BA’19), courage is a necessity when addressing today’s most controversial topics.

CCP was founded to serve as a space for students of all backgrounds to have solution-driven conversations about policy issues relating to inequality, race, and social justice. Cohen and CCP Co-President Ryan Alexander (BA’20) will host the organization’s first meeting this Thursday, Feb. 7, and look forward to leading regular meetings as well as engaging with the Batten community through events and activities.

Cohen and Velez feel that open, honest, and intentional policy conversations are essential and should be accessible to students of all races, beliefs, and backgrounds. They envision CCP as a place where students can start to move past discussing the problems and begin to formulate policy alternatives, or solutions, to these issues.

“Batten is a results-oriented community, and through CCP, students will have the agency to brainstorm pragmatic and tangible solutions on a wide array of issues,” said Velez. “As we look around in our own community and nationwide, we see that there is a lot more work to do toward creating a more fair and just society. However, we will only get there if people from different political backgrounds with good intentions come together and have courageous conversations.”

If students from various backgrounds feel compelled to discuss an issue, then a space should exist outside of the traditional classroom setting for them to do so. For Cohen and Alexander, this is a crucial component of CCP. Like other Batten organizations, such as Women in Policy (WIP), CCP members hope the organization will serve as a platform for Batten students to discuss the issues they care about most.    

“This will not be an echo chamber,” says Cohen. “Our key focus is taking informed action—something that Batten instilled in us from the beginning.”

Members of the Batten community, including Professors Sophie Trawalter and Brian Williams, have already voiced their support for the nascent organization. From topics of gender equity to social justice and race, CCP, under the leadership of Cohen and Alexander, will not be a timid organization, nor an exclusive one.

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This Thursday, Feb. 7, CCP will host their first meeting where they will discuss education inequalities in Charlottesville City Schools. Those who are interested can sign up here and should come prepared to discuss this article related to the topic at hand. The meeting will take place in Garrett Hall’s seminar room at 6:00 pm and food will be provided. For more information contact Chloe Cohen: cjc2yk@virginia.edu.

Other upcoming CCP events include a Batten Hour on Feb. 25 where CCP co-founder Chloe Cohen will lead a discussion on the topic of equality in education policy.