Fellowship programs award students around the country that exemplify outstanding civic engagement. JMU Junior, Margaret “Magi” Linscott, was recognized as one of the 2017 Newman Civic Fellowship winners for her advocacy work on campus.
Maagi is a Junior studying Public Policy and Administration and WRTC (Writing, Rhetoric and Technical Communication). Her work advocating for multiple issues on campus such as the accessibility of menstrual hygiene products, tobacco control, and community service, make her stand out among JMU students. Her advocacy efforts have been featured here in The Breeze, as well as in nationally recognized publications such as The Huffington Post, Seventeen Magazine, and Chelsea Clinton’s book titled It’s Your World: Get Informed, Get Inspired & Get Going. Her abundance of on-campus involvement and passion made her a clear contender for the Newman Civic Fellowship.
The Newman Civic Fellowship is a one-year program through Campus Compact, that recognizes community-supported students who are working to make change on campus. The program chooses students from universities across the country, nominated through a letter signed directly by their university’s president or chancellor. Per university, the president may only nominate one student for this Fellowship; this year President Alger nominated Magi Linscott. The Fellowship looks for students who are engaging in collaborative work with others on-campus and are taking action in addressing issues of inequality. While there is no financial scholarship offered from this program, students who are awarded the Fellowship have the opportunity to work with an on-campus mentor, network with other fellows through online discussion, and represent their university at an annual conference which will be taking place this November in Boston.
I recently had the chance to speak with Magi about her prestigious nomination:
How did the nomination process work for you?
I was told about the Fellowship by Dr. Frana of the Honors College. The president of JMU was to nominate one student who exemplified civic engagement. When he reached out to JMU faculty about potential students, Dr. Frana immediately thought of my work with the menstrual hygiene policy, my advocacy work with tobacco control, and my community service. I submitted a short personal statement, and the Office of the President fulfilled the nomination forms.
What advocacy work have you done on JMU campus?
I noticed there was a need on JMU’s campus for free & accessible menstrual hygiene products. Students have access to free condoms, toilet paper, and hand soap. For menstruators, hygiene products are every bit as necessary as the other products. In a partnership with SGA, I worked to pass a Bill of Opinion that called for free products in school bathrooms. Over 2,000 students signed the petition and SGA passed the Bill of Opinion with a super majority vote! Once the votes were cast, we took the Bill of Opinion to representative from upper administration. They agreed to offer free, accessible menstrual hygiene products on campus! They will be available in high-traffic buildings across campus.With tobacco control, I am concerned with raising awareness on the social justice aspects of Big Tobacco’s manipulative marketing tactics, such as targeting kids, racial minorities, women, and members of the LGBTQ+ community. I have spoken at various conferences to youth about the importance of shedding indifference and being a vocal member of the community. I have tried to incorporate this philosophy in all my activism and civic engagement.
My faculty mentor is Professor Michael Hickman of the WRTC department. I had him as a professor my freshmen year, and loved every minute of his class! As far as specific engagement projects, I have a lot planned! I am going to continue advocating for increased accessibility of menstrual hygiene products on campus and in Harrisonburg; I also plan to do work in criminal justice reform. I plan on continuing my work and research in a current class: Prison Writing, to advocate for fairer sentencing and “Ban the Box” legislation. I am also working on a pilot program for Honors freshmen to serve the community before 1787 Orientation, that way they can give back to the community that will be their host and home for the next four years.