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WC Students Lobby Their Legislators in Washington D.C.

Group Makes Annual Pilgrimage to Nation's Capital for Lesson in Democracy

April 10, 2012

Audrey Ingram (right) and students from the University of Washington, Haverford and Swarthmore universities listen to Lt. Col. Danny Davis speak about the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan. (Photo courtesy of Michael Snarr)

Audrey Ingram (right) and students from the University of Washington, Haverford and Swarthmore universities listen to Lt. Col. Danny Davis speak about the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan. (Photo courtesy of Michael Snarr)

SEE WC STUDENTS FEATURED ON FCNL VIDEO

Nearly three-dozen Wilmington College students gained hands-on experience lobbying their elected representatives in Washington DC in late March.

Michael Snarr, professor of social and political studies, led the annual sojourn of WC students to the Nation’s Capital for a long weekend that included some intensive training in lobbying and actually meeting face-to-face many of their elected government officials or their staff.

They also toured Washington DC at the peak of its famous cherry blossom festival.

The students went on the trip under the premise that the war in Afghanistan has become counterproductive and it’s time for the United States to cease its military actions.

The Quaker lobbying organization, Friends Committee on National Legislation, hosted 75 students from Haverford, Swarthmore, the University of Washington and Wilmington College.

They learned about the war’s most recent developments and heard a prognosis from such knowledgeable insiders as Lt. Col. Danny Davis, who recently presented a lengthy treatise on the Afghanistan conflict, which came to the conclusion that the American people are being misled and the war is not winnable.

Also, FCNL staff member Matt Southworth, a 2009 WC graduate that served in the Iraq War, shared his insight into the war.

A video produced by FCNL highlighting the weekend’s lobbying experience featured several WC students.

Freshman Ellen Short wanted to be as prepared as possible before facing her congressional representative. “The night before our whole group got together and everybody helped each other,” she said. “I received guidance on what to say, what not to say and how to say it — that was really helpful and gave me a lot of confidence.”

Senior Kristen Carpenter said one the “biggest lessons” she learned was the value of listening, and she appreciated when those she lobbied listened to her. “I feel like I have a voice and I’m capable of making decisions and speaking about things I believe in,” she said.

Sophomore Leslie Stiffler found the experience liberating. “Before I didn’t feel like I had a voice, but (speaking with my representative) I didn’t feel intimidated at all — I felt like I was just talking to another persons,” she said. “I believe we can really make a difference.”

Sophomore Corbin Hellwarth was surprised he was able to speak with his Congressman.
“People in Congress really are accessible,” he said. “And they need to listen to what you say.”