On April 16th, 10 members of the Legislative Action committee as well as some representatives from within SGA road tripped to Washington D.C. to lobby for financial aid and student loan forgiveness. We loaded into a 12 passenger JMU facilities management bus, listened to all kinds of music, and asked ice breakers such as “What is your favorite childhood movie?” Once we reached D.C., we checked into the Marriott and had an organizational meeting. After our meeting we all loaded into “the party bus” and went to dinner. We scarfed down Chipotle, Noodles & Co, ice cream and gelato.
With bellies full of food we went to Katie Stolp’s house, met her parents and watched part of Dodgeball on TV. We all got back to the hotel, went over the details of our bills concerning loan interest rates and loan debt forgiveness (S. 2051, H.R. 3826, H.R. 4170), and came up with talking points.
The alarms went off around 5:30 and we all stumbled out of bed. Everyone got dressed, and may I say, we we’re a sharp looking group. We hopped on the metro, were packed in like sardines for most of the way, and arrived at our stop after a 30 minute commute. Our first appointment was with Tom Culligan who is a JMU alum and works for a member of Congress. He gave us tips, approaches on how to talk to staff, and even had a pie chart with debt and spending numbers. He was fantastic and was very helpful. From there we broke into our separate groups, with 3-4 people each.
Each group had a different list of legislators offices to find to talk to. In total we spoke to over 25 offices and met with multiple staffers who have direct contact with members of Congress. Overall, our meetings were very well received. We handed out “leave behinds” which highlighted our talking points and those were a hit. We turned some heads. Everyone was professional, we knew our facts, and we asked tough questions. After our meetings we went to Good Stuff for lunch; we all just about inhaled our food, we were so hungry.
As senior, I was very pleased with my last (sniffle sniffle) lobbying trip. I couldn’t have asked for a better trip. Well… maybe if I was offered a job… All kidding aside, it was a great trip. We learned a lot and had the ability to bond as members of Student Government. I’m proud to say that this group got a lot accomplished in short period of time and that I got to be a part of it.