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Flipping the Page: A Story on Growth


I feel its weight in my hands. Its interesting texture. The unique scent...

The release party was wonderful. As we handed out the latest print edition of Claremont Journal of Law and Public Policy (CJLPP), we celebrated the fruition of another semester's hard work.

Like other stages in life, college is about growth. Surely, there are so many ways in which one could grow -- intellectually, psychologically, emotionally, ... Yet, even this scope of growth is defined too narrowly, I found. Growth is not just limited to us as individuals, but also applies to groups and student-run organisations.

I got involved with the journal during my first term in university as a staff writer. My focus was on the Hong Kong Basic Law and its implications on modern day "one country, two systems". As a second-year student this year, I have served on the executive board as a senior editor (really enjoyed working with writers on such topics as Asian American underrepresentation, California civil asset forfeiture, Shelby County v. Holder, Evenwel v. Abbot, and China's stock market free fall), and more recently, chief operations officer. The experience of working alongside a group of dedicated people has been truly rewarding: despite the amount of work regular college classes and my other extracurricular engagements require, I have always enjoyed devoting a few hours of my spare time to the journal. I am sure that others would concur, for we savour...

... the feeling of flipping each page with pride and joy --

During academically stressful periods, in particular, I see our meetings as a special treat. Everyone can contribute to our editor-in-chief's weekly agenda (all hail, democracy!), which covers not only the editorial side of the journal, but also includes items on potential law/public policy-related events we are planning, other ways to introduce topics in law and public policy to students, our evolving identity as an undergraduate journal, fun events for staff members to bond as a big, happy family, etc.

Additionally, it feels great to see how other people -- who are also university students striving to ace all of the apparently endless rounds of midterms, presentations, papers, and finals -- still manage to conduct their own research on law and public policy topics that they are personally interested in. Some articles may be extensions to what our writers have started exploring as part of their classes, summer internships, or research projects, while others are in completely uncharted territories -- important issues worthy of reflection, new SCOTUS decisions, landmark cases in U.S. and world history that might be relevant to our society today...

Perhaps, one of my favourite experiences with the journal thus far has been the group editing and voting session towards the end of each semester. This is when the four senior editors and our editor-in-chief come together in a quiet conference room on campus: one that has many computers, a few chairs that, to a certain degree, resemble those on airplanes, and a whiteboard. By that time of the term, we would have worked with the staff writers who we are paired with for weeks, and done our pre-group editing/voting session "homework": a serious task where we read through all the submissions and write down our thoughts, comments, concerns, and recommendations.

In that conference room, we would discuss all of the submissions that we have received one by one. While we sometimes reach a consensus relatively quickly, on other occasions, we would have a brief debate as to 1) whether the piece should make it to our print edition, 2) if not, whether we should publish it online or reject the submission, and 3) if we have decided to publish the particular article in our print edition and / or the website, what kinds of substantive or structural changes are required.

That feeling of flipping each page with pride and joy, yes -- each page that is equally thought-provoking, and each crystalizing memories of all of those precious moments that we have shared collectively, as we carefully pondered over each detail, discussed our thoughts with each other, and made decisions that would define our ever-evolving identity and shape our future...

The journal is the product of a dedicated group's collaboration, a brainchild of many, and a story of growth in itself. It demonstrates that although American universities do not offer law degrees at the undergraduate level, students who are passionate about law and public policy could work together to create a publication that covers a range of fascinating topics. The process is intellectually fulfilling, challenging, and of course, simultaneously filled with tons of fun elements.

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