Political science senior contributes to Supreme Court research

Mar 27, 2023 | Liberal Arts, Research, Students

Victoria Phillips, a Louisiana Tech senior political science major from Bossier City, recently presented “An Exploration of the Effects of Students for Fair Admissions v. Harvard” as part of a conference featuring research presentations on a wide variety of topics from political science faculty and students from across the state.

Phillips, who graduated during Winter Commencement and has transitioned into a full-time paralegal role while applying to law school, presented part of her honors thesis research at the Annual Meeting of the Louisiana Political Science Association at the University of Louisiana at Monroe in early February.

The presentation served as a culmination to more than a year of work investigating the history and future of affirmative action in higher education.

“Completing an honors thesis is a major achievement,” said Tech’s Dr. William O’Brochta, Assistant Professor of Political Science, who served as Phillips’s honors thesis chair and who attended the conference. “Victoria’s work is akin to that of a master’s degree-level project; she has made a timely contribution to scholarship on affirmative action in higher education.”

During the project, Phillips collected archival research from Tech’s library, conducted interviews, and combined her research into a guide to describe how the Supreme Court’s decision in the ongoing Students for Fair Admissions v. Harvard case could impact Louisiana Tech. The goal of this work was to understand different perspectives on how the impending decision from the Supreme Court could impact University resources.

“One component from my thesis that everyone can benefit from is the idea that we should all be aware of the resources available to us and how those resources are being maintained,” she said. “The Bulldog Cultural Center, for example, is a valuable campus resource available to all students. Taking the time to understand where the BCC comes from, why it is important, and how it is useful to current students helps the BCC to recruit more students and grow.”

The flexibility afforded by completing an honors thesis allowed Phillips to produce innovative research products like a mock amicus curiae brief that reflected issues of interest to Louisiana universities.

“Not only did this project introduce Victoria to important aspects of legal writing,” O’Brochta said, “but her focus on the implications of ongoing affirmative action litigation on Louisiana universities and students provides a framework for staff to use to better communicate about the work that they are doing, and ultimately to improve student retention.”

Phillips chose to attend Tech because she “loved the atmosphere and the sense of community I felt while I was on my tour,” she said, and she chose the political science pre-law concentration because the law, civics, and government had always been among her favorite subjects.

“Choosing political science allowed me to explore these areas of interest and examine how they are interconnected,” she said. “It gave me a deeper appreciation for law, civics, and government, but it also helped me to realize that I wanted to continue my education by going to law school.”