Brian McQuay: From Our Mouths to Our Laws

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How public discourse affects laws and policies is what interests Brian McQuay, '16, as he prepares to start UW Tacoma's interdisciplinary master's program.

Brian McQuay, '16June will be a busy month for UW Tacoma senior Brian McQuay. In the span of ten days he presents at a conference, graduates, and finds out if he got into UW Tacoma’s Master of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies program. “It’s a very nerve-wracking time,” said McQuay.

The 32-year-old Army veteran came to UW Tacoma as a transfer student from Pierce College.  He chose to major in law and policy partly due to his interest in gender and sexuality. “The best way I could do something was through law and policy, through policy reform,” said McQuay.

McQuay has been working with Assistant Professor Sarah Hampson on research related to transgender worker discrimination. “We’re looking at how public discourse affects laws and how they’re created,” said McQuay. “There’s been research that shows there’s a direct correlation between how the public speaks about an issue and what kind of policies we have around it.”

Hampson and McQuay will discuss their findings at a conference in New Orleans about a week before graduation. This is McQuay’s first time speaking at a conference but it’s something he hopes to do more of in the future. “I plan on getting my Ph.D. and want to be a research professor either back here, at the UW in Seattle, or maybe even Portland,” he said.

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Eric Wilson-Edge / June 2, 2016