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Students at the University of Mount Union Make an Impact in Washington DC

July 09, 2024

Each spring semester, students enrolled in the Lobbying on Capitol Hill class travel to Washington, DC to do just that: learn about bi-partisan legislation to address big issues and then head to Capitol Hill to meet with their representatives in the House and Senate to urge action on the issue. Dr. Nicole Johnson, professor of religious studies and director of the peacebuilding and social justice program, leads the trip annually; this year, Dr. Aaron Howell, associate professor of criminal justice, co-led the trip. Leah Kadlecek ’24, political science and sociology double major, Kayla Kilgore ’24, psychology major, Kayla Martin ’25, human development and family health science major, Jaliyah Mixon '24, sociology major, and Amari Kinnard '25, criminal justice major, discussed their experience in DC.

Pictured left to right: Leah Kadlecek '24, Kayla Martin '25, Aaliyah Kinnard, Kayla Kilgore '24, Jaliyah Mixon '24, and Amari Kinnard '25

This year, twelve students from Mount Union joined nearly 400 fellow young adults in the four-day training hosted by the Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL), a non-partisan group. Lobby visits were held in congressional offices on Capitol Hill.

“We lobbied to fund the Truth and Healing Commission Bill, which aims to fund the study of the history and impacts of government-funded boarding schools for Native Americans over the last two centuries,” said Johnson.

In preparation for lobbying, participants heard from Native American speakers about how boarding schools have impacted their families. According to the National Museum of the American Indians, children who were sent to these schools were forced to cut their hair, give up their traditional clothing and ceremonies, and stop speaking their native languages. Many boarding schools believed in the motto “Kill the Indian… save the man,” which has caused many to experience generational trauma.

Mural painting in Washington D.C.

“During the session it was powerful to hear from individuals who have firsthand experience from these institutions,” said Mixon. “It highlights the enormous consequences that this minority group faces.”

Throughout the weekend, students participated in workshops that taught everyone in-depth about the Native American community and lobbying. These workshops allowed participants to speak with experts on Native American Boarding Schools, members of Native American tribes, and to engage in political action.

“The first step towards success is holding people accountable for their actions, which I felt was the most important element this weekend,” said Martin.

Pictured left to right: Aaliyah Kinnard '24, Leah Kadlecek '24, Kayla Martin '25, Jaliyah Mixon '24, and Amari Kinnard '25

Learn more about Spring Lobby Weekend in Washington DC at discover how you can participate in a trip like this by learning more about Mount Union’s peacebuilding and social justice program.