Religious Studies

Students learn how to advocate issues with legislators

Apr 23, 2013

Eight North Central College students traveled to Washington, D.C., to attend the Ecumenical Advocacy Days (EAD) 2013 National Gathering.

More than 700 people from across the country attended the April 5-8 gathering. The schedule of events included workshops that informed attendees of key issues in the global food system and how to effectively communicate with legislators.

Students Gloria Barnum ’13, Kacie Greer ’13, Marissa Holaway ’15, Colin Loeffler ’13, Jonathan Voss ’14, Tyler Ward ’16, Matthew Wilke ’15 and Nicole Young ’15 all joined Campus Chaplain Rev. Lynn Pries to attend the gathering.

“The best experience was the visit with Adam Elias (legislative director for U.S. Representative Bill Foster of Illinois’ 11th District),” says Pries. “For most of the students, it was the first time they had been inside a legislative office. I was pleased with how the students took the opportunity to learn and speak up.”

Planning for the 2013 gathering began about a year ago, Greer says. She volunteered to coordinate logistics to bring more students to this year’s event. Among the pre-departure activities were training sessions to prepare the students for their advocacy role and how to reinforce their values to legislators.

“Our values were community, acceptance and social justice,” Greer says. “We felt these represent us as North Central students when talking to our nation’s leaders.”

The group focused their conversations with congressional representatives on four issues: SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), international aid, farmers markets and conservation.

“I’m really proud of my fellow students and their hard work to advocate for such good causes,” Greer says.

Young initially planned on attending the EAD gathering to gain exposure to the interaction of faith and politics and was hesitant at first to participate in political discourse. However, she soon discovered she could also relate her North Central education to the political conversations that took place.

“As I sat in the discussion circles, I found myself applying concepts I learned in my sociology and philosophy classes, from conversations with faculty and staff, from student organizations I'm involved in, and even an interdisciplinary studies course from my first year,” Young says. “It's amazing to see just how well prepared North Central has made me to actually go out into the world and make a difference.”

Students attending the conference are majoring in biology, organizational communication, English literature, religious studies, music, sociology and theatre.
By Klariza Alvaran ’13

Photo from left: Kacie Greer, Colin Loeffler, Jonathan Voss, Tyler Ward, Gloria Barnum, Matthew Wilke, Melissa Holaway, Nikki Young