By Shannon Allen
On March 13-15, several Roanoke College students from various academic backgrounds had the opportunity to lobby in front of both the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives in a program sponsored by the Friends Committee on National Legislation, FCNL. Over 300 students from 34 different states attended the event. This trip was made possible by the Environmental Studies program and the Peace and Justice concentration. Eastern Mennonite University in Harrisonburg, Virginia was among the other groups attending the event. Some groups at the event traveled from as far as Washington state.
The FCNL is a Quaker lobby in the public interest that evokes a moral call to action to support chosen pieces of legislation. Every spring, the organization holds a Spring Lobby weekend, which allows young adults to start a dialogue with their representatives about topics important to the FCNL. This year’s selected legislation dealt with climate change, but past topics include the defense budget and international policy.
The weekend consisted of seminars and workshops to educate attendees about climate change. It also prepped them to be able to speak on the topic as a moral issue rather than a scientific one. Speakers included legislators, religious leaders, and climate change advocates. From Monday afternoon leading into Tuesday, students had the opportunity to sit with both senators and representatives to speak with them about proposed pieces of legislation. The only way to initiate political action for preventing climate change is through extreme bipartisan cooperation, many people stressed. RC students specifically spoke with representatives from Virginia, Maryland, Tennessee, and New Jersey.
Students lobbied the PREPARE Act in the House of Representatives which urges the allocation of money to build infrastructure to prevent storm damage nationally. They also lobbied on the Shaheen-Portman bill in the senate that would help create a better market for alternative energy.