by Martina Starkey '23
In March, I, along with a group of other Mount Union students and professors, traveled to Washington DC to participate in Spring Lobby Weekend hosted by the Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL). There were fifteen people from Mount who joined 400 more young adults who attended the four-day training and lobbying.
The training was held at the National Press Club and the lobby visits were held in Congressional offices on Capitol Hill. Attendees lobbied to fund violence interrupters and during training, we learned about what violence interrupters are and how we can help to mitigate violence in our communities. Violence interrupters can be described as people or programs that help assist the community by providing resources to stop violence before it occurs.
“One of the most interesting concepts I was able to learn during my time in DC was the intersectionality of violence and hate and how it related to each and every person," said Gracyn Sage, a junior nursing major. “Additionally, I learned so much about how I can contribute to stopping violence while not being directly affected by the ramifications of violence in my community.”
Throughout the weekend, we participated in workshops that taught us more about lobbying, the topic of violence interrupters, and how to be active young adult constituents. We attended talks from experts in the area of violence interruption and politics including Representative Jim McGovern from the second district of Massachusetts.
“I enjoyed learning from Representative McGovern during training,” said sophomore psychology major, Nev Milnes. “He humanized the idea of lobbying and made me more comfortable going to talk to my representatives with opposing viewpoints. My lobby visit as a group leader with representative Dan Vaughn from Senator JD Vance’s office became more enjoyable after attending training because I was able to have a more personal conversation. I felt like I was actually part of something that was making a difference in people’s lives.”
As a whole, our group felt really passionate about our experience, and we learned a lot through training and visiting with representatives while in DC.
“This experience can be beneficial for everyone, and I learned that it did not matter your political background to lobby with FCNL," said Milnes. “The topics we spent time discussing were bipartisan but also opened my eyes to understanding different viewpoints. If my schedule aligns, I will definitely participate again in Spring Lobby Weekend.”
The annual spring lobby trip is sponsored by Mount Union’s peacebuilding and social justice program.