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Senior Erin Reynolds (Larchmont, N.Y.), a double major in government and law and French, is researching and writing about the judicial system of France and anti-Semitism for her senior thesis. Reynolds is undertaking the yearlong study in pursuit of departmental honors in government and law and French.

For the government and law portion of her thesis, Katalin Fabian, assistant professor of government and law, is providing guidance to Reynolds. Christian Reyns-Chikuma, assistant professor of foreign languages, will work with her for honors in French.

“I will be writing on how the judicial system of France has affected the huge social problem of anti-Semitism in the country,” says Reynolds. “I was not aware how big a problem anti-Semitism really is in France, so it will definitely be a chance for me to open my eyes to that. I really want to learn something new during this process, and not just write on a topic with which I’m completely comfortable.”

Reynolds found a way to combine her majors in her thesis and has a plan in place.

“To do this, I will first deal with the judicial system and examine how it works, whether it’s efficient, and how much of an impact it has in society,” she says. “Second, I will deal with anti-Semitism. I will choose three or four major events in the history of France, and show how they have shaped the trends in the society. Then I will combine the two by studying court cases involving anti-Semitism. I will then arrive at my final conclusion on whether anti-Semitism has been affected by the courts of France and if there is a solution to the problem in the future.”

“This is an important study and not a small feat to accomplish,” says Fabian. “Honors theses help students excel in what they know about and help others while helping themselves. For Erin, it’s important to start with what she knows the least about.”

Reynolds has first-hand knowledge of the court system in France. During fall semester of last year she interned with a private lawyer in Paris. Her responsibilities included interviewing clients and going to court.

“He taught a number of law classes and was very patient,” says Reynolds. “He gave me several books which will help me with my thesis.”

Reyns-Chikuma says that this thesis is giving Reynolds the opportunity to study in-depth a topic that isn’t covered in coursework for a French major. In addition, she is tackling some challenging studies in French.

“It is never easy to find references in a foreign language and culture,” says Reyns-Chikuma, “because sometimes your results depend on the keywords you use for the search. So, the more you know the language, including synonyms, technical words, and connotations, the easier it is, although it is still difficult.”

“Her French is good, but what sets her apart is her determination and her openness,” says Reyns-Chikuma of Reynolds.

“I admire her tenacity and her clear writing ability,” says Fabian.

Even though she has only begun the research process, Reynolds has found a wealth of information, utilizing her advisers, other faculty, and librarians at Lafayette’s Kirby and Skillman Libraries.

“I consider myself very lucky because, thanks to the faculty here, I’m not one of those people who is struggling to find information and resources on a topic that could be very difficult to research,” says Reynolds. “I have a great deal of information as well as many different perspectives and I’ve learned so much from it in a matter of a few weeks.”

Reynolds has participated in two externships. She worked with the vice president of staff labor relations at NBC and with an assistant district attorney in New York.

Reynolds is a member of Pi Sigma Alpha, the government and law honors society, and has been on the dean’s list every semester. She is an attorney on the mock trial team, secretary of Pi Beta Phi sorority, and a tour guide. She also takes piano lessons and plays flute in wind ensembles.

Categorized in: Academic News