L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs

L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs



Meet the Newest Rams - Ethan Wright

Ethan Wright, a new Wilder School student
Ethan Wright, a new Wilder School student

Manassas, Virginia; L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs, Honors College

The pandemic has affected everyone in unimaginable ways. For Wright, it led to a mammoth awakening. 

“To put it bluntly, I became a communist,” Wright said. “I realized that politics is not the way we’re going to get about change.”

That’s quite a shift for someone who, before transferring to VCU this semester as a junior, had already been part of three successful political campaigns for candidates in Northern Virginia.

Immediately after high school, Wright took a gap year where he worked first on Jennifer Wexton’s 2018 congressional campaign. He joined at a time when the other interns — mostly college students — were returning to school. So at 18 he became the senior field intern. Wexton won, leaving her previous state senate seat open, requiring a special election to fill it. 

“And I had clearly done good enough work to be recommended to be an actual paid field organizer, rather than an intern for that special election,” Wright said. “The woman I was working for, Jennifer Boysko, won that race.”

Wright later worked on Suhas Subramanyam’s successful campaign for the Virginia House of Delegates. He then attended George Mason University for one semester before COVID-19 hit, sending all of his classes online.

“So this is my first real college experience of actually being immersed in the campus,” he said.

After transferring to VCU, Wright changed his major from political science to urban and regional studies.

“Even if I was campaigning for the most progressive candidate, it still felt like reformism,” Wright said of his leftist leanings. “To me … reformism isn’t the harm reduction we think it is. Being immersed in it, I know politics is all about compromise. But when compromise is about people’s lives and livelihood and their housing, that leads perfectly into why I want to do urban and regional studies.

“I want to revolutionize what cities are and what we think are guaranteed rights. Because I want to be a city planner that believes that housing is a human right. I want to be a city planner that expands exponentially transportation and makes it accessible and free. And figure out why cities are also food deserts in so many places. And realize that food isn’t a privilege.”

Wright plans to minor in Spanish and, hopefully, theater. He’s also getting involved with student organizations that focus on mutual aid, including Ram Pantry.

“I would love to find ways to get involved with the student body, but also the community as well,” Wright said. “So if I don’t find a space for that, then I’ll make one.” 

This story "Meet the newest Rams" originally appeared on VCU News.