Junior becomes finalist in The Nation’s student writing contest

Published: October 30, 2012, 5:07 pm ET
Collegian Staff
Photo courtesy of KyungSun Lee

Erik Lampmann's 800-word essay about America needing electoral reform was earned him finalist recognition in a contest with more than 1,000 national applicants.

The Nation, an opinion journal featuring analysis on politics and culture, announced on Oct. 15 that University of Richmond junior Erik Lampmann had placed in the final round of its student writing contest for his essay, “For the Sake of Democracy, We Need Electoral Reform.”

The contest, which was open to all matriculating high school students and undergraduates at American schools, colleges and universities, called for an 800-word essay detailing the most important issue of the 2012 election. The Nation received close to 1,000 submissions from high school and college students in 42 states and chose one college and one high school winner, who were awarded $1,000, and five finalists who were awarded $200 each.

Lampmann’s essay challenged the assumption that electoral politics were the only route to social change.

“I think that rather than view the election as the sole site of policy discussion in the coming year,” he wrote, “we must create new spaces for deliberative dialogue that combat the corporatization of American politics, campaign fundraising that devalues individuals’ political voice and the lack of descriptive representation among officials.”

Lampmann said that his summer research project, “Strategizing an Ethos for Deliberative Democracy in an Unjust and Oppressive Age,” had informed his essay. Through the project, he sought to explain the theoretical foundation for the progressive political practices and policies that he sought to advance as an activist, he said.

David Lefkowitz, the PPEL professor who supervised Lampmann on the project, said that Lampmann possessed a deep passion for social justice and a consuming commitment to its realization.

“Erik identifies closely with the plight of the marginalized and oppressed individuals and groups in America,” Lefkowitz said. “He seeks not simply to improve their lot, but to create a society in which no person suffers such a fate.”

On campus, Lampmann works as the co-facilitator for the Student Alliance for Sexual Diversity and as the co-founder of the Roosevelt Institute, a student organization that aims at fostering a socially progressive community on campus. Outside the university, Lampmann has interned with Equality Pennsylvania, which works to secure equal rights for the LGBTQ community in Pennsylvania, and is a contributing author to the websites PolicyMic and GayRVA.

Contact staff writer Abby Kloppenburg at

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  • Lesley

    Erik is a great dude. I’m glad to see him getting the recognition he deserves.