By Grassroots Organizer Ashley Jowell
After four enlightening, informative, and fun days at STAND camp, 17 STAND students hopped on a bus Monday afternoon that took them down to Washington DC to lobby their Representatives. After prepping for the meetings (and exploring DC!) on Monday evening, the students awoke bright and early on Tuesday morning, ready to head down to Capitol Hill. The group contained both experienced and new lobbyists, and it was time to put the lobbying skills that they had learned at STAND camp to use.
The students asked their Representatives two take two actions: first, to cosponsor the Sudan Peace, Security, and Accountability Act (HR 4169), which expands the sanctions that previously applied only to Darfur to mass atrocities occurring anywhere in Sudan; and second, to support full funding of the president’s budget request for three accounts (the Complex Crises Fund, Conflict Stabilization Operations, and Contributions to International Peacekeeping Activities) that support the government’s ability to prevent and respond to mass atrocities.
Although many students were nervous before the meeting, it was overall a huge success. The staffers who met with the students were for the most part friendly and receptive of the students’ asks, and overall very impressed to see students lobbying at their office. As described by first-time lobbyist Leslie, “it was a really enlightening experience that was nowhere near as intimidating as I expected it to be.” Furthermore, Leslie noted that the experience helped her to realize “how important it it to have one’s voice heard.” Fellow lobbyist Adriana said that she was most surprised by how “friendly, helpful, and encouraging Representative Wilson’s staffers were.” When asked what she would tell a first-time lobbyist like herself, Adriana encouraged all students to “get out and do it! It’s a great feeling to be able to go out yourself and make a difference!” The Tuesday lobby day was a phenomenal way to wrap up STAND camp, and although all students were sad to leave DC, they were excited to bring back the tools they had learned both at STAND camp and during the lobby day home to their communities.
If you’re interested in lobbying, you don’t need to visit Capitol Hill. Every Senator and Representative maintains one or more offices in their home state. We encourage you to schedule an in-district lobbying meeting in your community and continue building relationships with your elected officials. If you have any questions concerning lobbying, please do not hesitate to contact your Regional Organizer, or Advocacy Coordinator Daniel Solomon at firstname.lastname@example.org.