Advocacy day teaches civil action to students, inspires

Lariel Turner and Lariel Turner

Unite for Reproductive and Gender Equity formally known as Choice USA held an Advocacy Day on Feb. 25,2015 in Columbus, Ohio.

The Program gave students and activists alike an opportunity to become civically engaged according to Allie Lahey, who served as the program’s organizer.

“At URGE we think it’s really important to be civically engaged,” she said. “Civic engagement to a lot of people is just voting but to us it’s more than that. It’s being involved in every step of the process of how policies go through.”

Lahey said Advocacy Day is a way for students and activists to get involved in holding our legislatures accountable.

“That means thanking them or telling them that we’re not happy with the job that they doing,” she said.

A group of twenty-five students participated in Advocacy Day. They underwent an hour-long training on what advocacy means and why it’s done.

The training was preceded by the introduction of state representatives.

Participants where then given the opportunity to highlight specific pieces of legislation, while voicing personal opinions and concerns on governmental affairs. Six students of the University and members of the campus organization Feminist Organization Raising Conciseness and Empowerment participated in the program.

FORCE also acts as the University’s on-campus chapter of URGE. FORCE member and Advocacy Day participant Emily Philibert said the program provided students with a sense of self-worth.

“The biggest thing that I took away from Advocacy Day was that individuals can make a difference,” Philibert said. “Actually talking to a representative helped me to realize that my voice can be heard, speaking face to face with a representative refueled my passion for politics and equity all over again.”

Philibert went on to discuss the sense of confidence and value the trip granted.

“As such a marginalized person, I was still able to speak to representatives,” Philibert said. “I was there to make a difference and that’s what we were able to do.”

Candidate for University Student Government President and URGE intern, Nadia Alzamami, describes the impact Advocacy Day had on participants. “

“I think URGE’s Advocacy Day and similar events remind participants that government isn’t just this weird intangible concept,” Alzamami said. “Government is a few hours away and you’re representative will listen to you should you make the effort”