Holder Initiative Justice Review
The 82nd Attorney General of the United States, Eric H. Holder Jr. CC’73, LAW’76, sought to ensure equal treatment under the law, endeavored to safeguard the rights and freedoms of all individuals, and attempted to remedy corrosive mistrust between citizens and government. In an effort to reflect the ideals of justice that Attorney General Holder continues to fight for, and to foster the next group of student leaders, the Eric H. Holder Jr. Initiative for Civil and Political Rights is proud to present our inaugural edition of the Holder Initiative Justice Review, an annual publication dedicated to justice-based research produced by Columbia undergraduate students.
Letter from the reading committee
Letter from the reading committee
We present here to you the inaugural Holder Initiative Justice Review, a publication dedicated to justice-based research produced by Columbia undergraduate students. The 82nd Attorney General of the United States, Eric H. Holder Jr. CC’73, LAW’76 sought to ensure equal treatment under the law, endeavored to safeguard the rights and freedoms of all individuals, and attempted to remedy corrosive mistrust between citizens and government. In an effort to reflect the ideals of justice that Attorney General Holder continues to fight for, and to foster the next group of student leaders, the Eric H. Holder Jr. Initiative for Civil and Political Rights is proud to publish it’s first Justice Review. The review is a collection of some of the most exceptional works of original research by Columbia undergraduates writing on the topic of justice.
The Holder Initiative put out a call to submissions at the end of the semester, asking students to submit any original work for courses that relate to justice. One Columbia College Senior was eligible to receive a cash prize of $500 for exemplary writing that demonstrates a strong commitment to justice. A committee of three readers made up of Executive Director Frank Guridy, Senior Associate Director Elizabeth Manchester, and one senior member of the Student Advisory Board read all of the submissions and have selected 10 finalists and one award winner. Congratulations to Jerry Chen…
Our aim in creating this review is to engage the undergraduate population of Columbia. In offering a cash prize and a website to publish work, we hope that we have encouraged more students to critically engage with contemporary society in their coursework. Hopefully, this will have sparked an interest in justice and more students will engage with the Holder Initiative and issues of justice in our community. In curating some of the most exceptional work from the undergraduate population, we have offered a place where students can engage with their peers and spark their own interests.
Thank you to all who submitted and to the readers of the review. A special thanks to Beth Manchester and Frank Guridy for providing the resources and the tools to get the review off the ground.
Holder Initiative Justice Review Team
Holder Initiative Justice Research Award Winner
The Great North Carolina Ku Klux Klan Trials (Zirui (Jerry) Chen CC'23)
Zirui (Jerry) Chen is a recent graduate of Columbia University, where he majored in history and political science. He is the recipient of the Chanler Historical Prize, awarded to Columbia College seniors who submit the best essay on a topic dealing with the history of civil government in America. He is also an incoming J.D.-Ph.D. candidate at Harvard University and Harvard Law School.
Exemplary Student Submissions
The Chair (Karen Cheng CC'23)
Karen Cheng is a writer from Houston, Texas, who studied political science at Columbia. She is passionate about the intersection of art and the criminal legal system. Much of her academic work today focuses on prison and death penalty abolition. Her time working with the Texas After Violence Project and archival artist Mark Menjivar ignited her interest in activating archival work as a tool for justice.
The Color of Intimacy: Marriage, Passing, and the Legal Strategies of Afro-Creole Women in Antebellum New Orleans (Crystal Foretia CC'23)
Crystal Foretia (she/her) is a recent graduate of Columbia College, where she studied political science and history. Born and raised in Silver Spring, MD, Crystal is the youngest daughter of Cameroonian immigrants. Her research interests include postcolonialism, comparative politics, and the history of the African diaspora. Crystal is a 2021 Navab Fellow and a 2022 Saltzman Student Scholar with the Arnold A. Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies. She previously interned for the U.S. House Committee on the Judiciary and the Center for American Progress. In her spare time, Crystal writes poetry and visits art exhibitions.
Dissent: Divisive or Dialectical? Examining the Cases of Plessy, Korematsu, and Beazer (Robert Gao CC'23)
Robert Gao is a recent graduate of Columbia College, where he majored in economics and political science. He is from Dallas, Texas, though he grew up near Houston. He is interested in how political and economic institutions can advance and serve the interests of the people, which led him to write this paper on how Supreme Court dissents can demonstrate a farsighted commitment to justice. Outside of his studies, Robert likes to read, explore New York, and follow Houston sports.
Families Behind Bars (Angel Gilbert CC'26)
Angel Gilbert is a rising sophomore at Columbia University majoring in political science and African-American studies. Given how both her parents were in and out of jail, fighting against mass incarceration is an injustice that is very close to her heart. Oftentimes, she felt like she served her parents’ sentences right along with them. As a product of the foster care system, she navigated a corrupt world of social workers, lawyers, and judges. While she helped to protect and raise her younger sisters as best as she could, Angel knew she had to do more for her larger community. She’s had the honor of calling various child welfare, feminist, and racial non-profits her family. As an aspiring lawyer, Angel is excited to continue giving voice to an underrepresented facet of American identity. One publication, one poem, one narrative at a time.
Partisan Gerrymandering and the Failure of Rucho v Common Cause (Benjamin Gollin CC'23)
Ben Gollin is a recent graduate of Columbia College, where he majored in political science. After graduation, he plans to teach for two years with Teach for America before attending law school.
Origins and Perpetuation of Violence: A History of Police Brutality Explained Through a Tradition of Political Philosophy (Elliot Blake Hueske CC'23 and Sophia Naqvi CC'23)
Elliot Blake Hueske (she/her) studied philosophy and psychology in Columbia College and is committed to collaborative interdisciplinary scholarship. More specifically, she seeks to use ancient ethics and epistemology to inform contemporary challenges. In particular, her independent research projects and work as a research assistant in the Departments of Psychology, Philosophy, and English and Comparative Literature have been oriented towards exploring alternative flexible cognitive strategies that counteract pernicious implicit biases and avoid becoming wedded to myopic beliefs with potentially harmful social manifestations. She has been involved with the Columbia University Senate for all four years of her undergraduate experience, serving roles including but not limited to elected Senator, Chair of the Health and Wellness Subcommittee, and member of the Commission on the Status of Women. She was also the appointed undergraduate student representative on the Presidential Advisory Committee on Sexual Assault. Elliot is a Phi Beta Kappa inductee, a recipient of the Columbia University Inclusion and Advocacy Leadership and Excellence award, a Senior Marshal, and a Rhodes Scholarship finalist.
Sophia Naqvi (she/her) is a recent graduate of Columbia College, where she studied economics and history, with a specialization in Modern European history. Through her areas of study, Naqvi has focused on issues of imperial justice and history from an economic perspective; Naqvi’s scholarship has thus ranged between issues such as Cold War interventionism in the Middle East, contemporary consumer culture and British orientalism, and policing in the colonial state. Outside of the classroom, Naqvi is a dedicated student leader: she has served as the President (2022-2023), Vice President (2021-2022), and Membership Engagement Chair (2020-2021) of the Columbia Women’s Business Society (CWBS), Columbia University’s largest student organization. Moreover, Sophia served as an Executive Board member during her time in the group, advising and creating subsidiary groups, such as The Scope and Columbia Women in the Arts, that serve 2000+ women and alumni. Outside of CWBS, Sophia has been involved in leadership and membership capacities with various organizations, including the Helvidius Journal of Politics and Society, Columbia Venture Partners, Delta Gamma, and the Undergraduate Recruitment Committee. Naqvi is a recipient of Columbia University’s Community Building Leadership and Excellence award, a Senior Marshall, and is a Charles M. Rolker Prize finalist.
Columbia University: a history of hostile expansion (Ashwin Marathe CC'25)
Ashwin Marathe is a rising junior in Columbia College studying political science and history.
On the Moral Injustice Behind Criminalizing Abortion (Marie Miller CC'25)
Marie Miller is a student of economics, international affairs, and human rights at Columbia College, hoping to pursue a career at the intersection of international human rights, sustainability, and economic law. She has spent two years teaching abroad, and currently interns for the Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment, a joint center of Columbia Law School and the Earth Institute. She recently had the privilege of participating in the annual United Nations ECOSOC Youth Forum. In Summer 2023, she will be working with the Undersecretary of Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights at the Department of State, while pursuing independent research on LGBTQ+ asylum law as a Columbia Global
Thought Scholar. In her free time, she loves going to art museums.
The History of Women’s Jails in New York City: An Argument for Why the Women’s Center for Justice Should Not Open (Eve Strickberger CC'23)
Eve Strickberger is a recent graduate of Columbia College, where she studied 20th century U.S. History. Outside of the classroom, she is the coordinator of ROOTED, the student-led dialogue group that creates identity-based facilitations for the university community. She is also a leader in COOP and involved at Hillel. After graduation, Eve plans to work at an organization that provides direct services to people experiencing injustice in the criminal legal system.