In preparation for the Washington D.C. lobbying trip occurring March 22 through 25, a group of Wilmington College students made their own lobbying trip to Congressman Steve Stiver’s office located in downtown Wilmington.
The course, led by Professor Michael Snarr, is training students for lobbying in D.C., whether through learning new information about the topic or hands-on situations. Snarr shared, “I’ve been involved [in the trip to D.C.] about seven years. My father had been taking students a few years before that, and then slowly transferred the trip to me. During the transition years–about six years ago, student Matt Southworth helped us both. Matt now works on Capitol Hill.” By lobbying Congressman Stiver’s office, students get the beginning experience. Rather than speaking to Congressman Shiver himself, the group was able to speak to his field representative, Adam Rapien, that was present at the office. Near the end of the meeting, Adam shared, “We are only people too and there is no reason to be intimidated.” It is reassuring to students to realize that when they are going to talk about matters with their Congressperson, that he or she is only there to help and to listen.
About seven students played a role in asking questions and making requests for the Congressman, mainly focused on the issue of drone strikes and the repealing of the Authorization of the Use of Military Force. The requests were similar to the ones that students will be asking their representatives in D.C. Professor Snarr shared his thoughts on how he believes this smaller scale lobbying trip will benefit his students. He said, “First, it allows them to see what the lobbying process looks like. Second, it enables them to practice their skills in a more familiar setting before that travel to the nation’s capital where students can be intimidated.”
It was a beneficial experience because students began to realize that they can make an impact in their country by just getting involved and by taking the time to learn about speaking to those who run the government. The government is meant to be run by the people, and lobbying is only one step that civilians can take to change and influence decisions that are important to them. It is a great stepping stone for the Washington D.C. trip that is around the corner, and it is an even greater step towards becoming an involved citizen of the United States.