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The Blue & Gray Press | July 22, 2017

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Alumnu Earns Honor

BY BRITTANY De VRIES

His accomplishments have yet to fall beneath amazing.

The University of Mary Washington’s Kappa Upsilon chapter to Pi Sigma Alpha, the national political science Honor’s Society, couldn’t deny alumnus Justin Simeone’s talents.

The PSA awarded him one of two runners-up honors in the society’s Best Undergraduate Honors Thesis competition.

Simeone explained why he chose to write his thesis, titled “Crisis or Constitution: Rethinking Judicial Deference on Administrative Detention in the US, the UK, and Israel.”

“With my background, I’m really fascinated with how people fall through the cracks,” Simeone said. “It’s interesting how people are without rights under the law and the process we go through in giving them rights.”

Simeone’s achievements make for six honors for UMW’s Kappa Upsilon chapter in the society’s national writing competitions, and three that have received graduate scholarship from Pi Sigma Alpha. These awards position the University as the first in the country to receive three awards from the PSA society.

Within his thesis abstract, Simeone writes, “The theory holds that popular opinion and systemic constraints force high courts to display a high degree of deference to executive and legislative actors during times of elevated national security threat, often at the expense of human rights.  This paper presents an alternative framework of analysis that permutes the crisis thesis to include judicial experience as an additional and inverse independent variable.”

Dr. Rosalyn Cooperman, Kappa Upsilon advisor and political science professor, commented how Simeone’s achievements decorated the University’s PSA chapter.

“ Our Pi Sigma Alpha chapter is the most decorated Pi Sigma Alpha chapter in the country,” Cooperman said. “UMW’s PSA chapter, Kappa Upsilon, and its members have won recognition for outstanding performance unmatched by any other Pi Sigma Alpha chapter nationwide.”

Having written an honors thesis from his own original research and interviews by traveling to Israel through his UMW undergraduate research grant, Simeone’s advisor John Davidson, associate professor of political science, commented on why he pressured Simeone to submit his thesis to the Honor’s Society.

“I favored Justin’s thesis as UMW’s submission because of the sophisticated and novel nature of the research, analysis, and writing,” Davidson said. “Moreover, his work was novel: to my knowledge no rigorous, comparative study like Justin’s has been conducted to date.”
Political science department chair John Kramer, who also recommended Simeone’s thesis, held a similar attitude.
“We submitted Justin’s paper because we felt that it was an absolutely outstanding paper, quite frankly one of the best student papers I have read in my 37 years here at UMW,” Kramer said. “It had to be outstanding because Pi Sigma Alpha is the national political science honorary society so its members are the very “best and brightest” students nationally in the discipline.”

Each University in the nation with a Pi Sigma Alpha chapter can submit one thesis to the competition each year, chosen through department consensus.

Simeone was proud to represent the University through receiving the scholarship.

“It showcases that UMW has students that are as bright, talented and capable as any other top school,” he said.

A $100 prize was also awarded to the runners-up in the competition.

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