WASHINGTON, DC — In recent years, Dr. Nicole Johnson, professor of philosophy and religious studies, Dr. Lori Kumler, associate professor of political science and international studies, and Dawn Adams, director of international student services, have taken students to Washington, DC for the annual Spring Lobby Weekend held by the Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL).
With the remote teaching and learning taking place as a result of COVID-19, the faculty were able to work with FCNL to provide the hands-on experience to students remotely. Students went through hours of lobby training, and the group from Mount Union was one of the few who were still able to communicate directly with Congresspeople.
“Our students were able to take active leadership roles in the lobby calls,” said Kumler. “Furthermore, it allowed them to practice their phone skills, which in many cases for younger people is not something they are accustomed to even though much of the world still operates via phone call.”
“I was bummed but understanding of the fact that the lobby experience would be online due to the COVID-19 crisis,” said Emily Keller ’20 an environmental science major of Aurora, Ohio. “Even though we would have liked to travel to Washington, DC and talk to our Congressmen in person, we got to do the next best thing. Once we were all trained and ready to go, we each got to lobby three Congressmen over the phone. Senator [Sherrod] Brown even got on the call himself which was really neat!”
FCNL had more than 500 individuals from 40 states participate in the virtual event. Each year, a different issue is the focal point of communication for participants with the 2020 topic being climate change. The specific ask was to get members of Congress to co-sponsor the Climate Action Rebate Act of 2019 (S. 2884/H.R. 4051).
Although this unique situation can provide its own set of challenges, the collaborative effort between the Mount Union community and FCNL made the remote experience a memorable one for students.
“Both Dr. Johnson and Dr. Kumler have really stepped up during this online period,” said Joey Falatok ’20 a political science major of Mogadore, Ohio. “They take great responsibility in the educational achievements of their students and transitioning out of the classroom has not changed their mindset whatsoever. I admire their ability to stay focused in the face of adversity.”
“The effort and organization put into making this event a success was phenomenal,” said Kumler. “The FCNL staff had clearly put in hours of prep to bring us speakers and to make the event a success.”
“This experience helped me realize that it is possible for even someone like me who has very little political science experience to step up and fight for something I believe in,” said Keller.
Learn more about Spring Lobby Weekend on the FCNL website and watch Keller and other students interact with experts on the FCNL YouTube channel.