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Photo by Matt D’Annunzio

Jacob Canter ’14

political science

Hometown: San Francisco, California

Who I was when I got to Reed: I was more concerned with appearance than reality. I wanted to be liked and to impress people. I’d like to think that has changed since I’ve come to Reed.

How Reed changed me: Reed forced me to become intellectually serious, to care less about how I appear and more about how I act. I took my academics very seriously. The grade was not the point; it was about doing something I was proud of.

Something I would tell prospies: If you take the Reed education seriously, you’re going to take your life seriously. That doesn’t mean you’re going to find the way to make the most money, but you will be a person who makes decisions that are grounded in thought.

Influential book: Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. The book forces me to engage with important issues—about responsibility, power, fear, friendship. It's a fantastic journey across continents and one man's great, tumultuous life. It demands respect and awe because it deals with the topics that give life purpose, and could not be written better.

Cool stuff I did: I worked with Prof. Paul Gronke [political science 2001–] on his research about early and absentee voting. I also did research for Prof. Darius Rejali on a project called “Changes in Torture Subcultures in Iraq from 1970–2010,” developing a rubric by which we could evaluate government reports about torture. Reed is one of the few places in the country where you can seriously engage with smart, nice people who really want to work with you to do research.

Random thoughts: The Hum 220 texts give you a sense of the way issues came up and why certain ideas matter. Going from Rousseau to Kant to Nietzsche, you see the trajectory, where Freud fits in. These guys are all presenting concepts and their concepts are individually interesting, but it’s cool to see how they change.

Advisers: Prof. Tamara Metz [political science 2006–] and Prof. Darius Rejali [political science 1989–]

Thesis: “Two Critiques of Standing Doctrine”

What it’s about: In federal court, every plaintiff must establish that she has standing to sue. This, however, is a pre-legal injury requirement, and thus offers an unconventional framework to consider different methods of judicial review. The thesis evaluates four Supreme Court standing opinions through four general theories of judicial review, and then critiques two of those theories, formalism and Bickelean judicial restraint.

What it’s really about: Why do the judges make the decisions that they do? Why do those decisions sometimes feel really weird?

What’s next: I’d like to do some more research in political science and apply for law school.