Students go to D.C., Harvard in search of political opportunities

by Sarah KellerStaff Writer

With the presidential election nearing in just over a month, students are becoming increasingly involved in politics on a national scale.

John Epperson, professor of political science, invited three students to attend a conference at Harvard University in Boston because of their involvement with politics.

“I was chosen due to my immense love for politics,” sophomore Chris Richert said. “He [Epperson] thought that I would benefit from the knowledge gained at the conference.”

The Simpson students met with student leaders from other colleges and attended workshops. The purpose of the event was to give students the tools to help their campus get more involved in voting.

Richert said that, along with learning how to mobilize students to register to vote come Nov. 4, they learned to speak of the importance of voter education.

“What good is a voter that doesn’t know what is going on?” Richert said.

Richert said he was very happy with his experience and he took a lot away from his trip.

“The experience was indescribable,” he said. “You can’t really explain what it feels like going to Harvard. It just feels like a whole other world. I got the chance to meet fellow republicans from across the country and find out what they have done on their campuses that has worked.”

For some participants, including sophomore Steven Ramsey, the experience meant more than just getting to go to lectures.

“I have always dreamed of going to Harvard, and I was looking at their law school while I was there.” Ramsey said. “The most enjoyable part was connecting with others.”

Not only did the students on the Harvard trip gain further political exposure, but there was also a group of SGA members who traveled to Washington D.C. to attend leadership workshops.

According to Rich Ramos, assistant dean of students, the purpose of the trip was for students to become involved with student government workshops, focusing on student government issues and to help students become better leaders on campus.

This is the second year Simpson students have attended the conference in Washington.

“I think that the students who went on this conference last year felt that it was a really good experience,” Ramos said. “They got a lot out of it that they were able to bring back to campus and keep them energized about student government and looking to do new things.”

One of the students who attended the trip last year was senior Kyle Liske, student body president. Liske said he felt he was able to bring a lot of useful information back to Simpson from the conference to better the campus.

“One of the great things about this conference is not only do you have the resources of expert consultants, but you also have a number of other student governments from around the nation dealing with the same issues,” Liske said. “It has taken us to an organization that fights for issues to better serve our constituents – the students.”

According to Liske, he played a hand in choosing who would be going to the conference this year. He said he wished he could send everybody that is involved with SGA, but the financial resources were not available.

“I chose people that have proven themselves to be passionate about campus issues and student interests,” Liske said. “I hope that this conference will give them many great ideas to bring back to campus, give them insight and help develop them as leaders in the future.”

One of the students chosen to attend the conference was Junior Class President Bailey Harris. Harris said she looked forward to going to D.C. because she loves the city and thought it would be a great opportunity.

“A group went last year, and they got a lot out of it,” Harris said. “In fact, some of the ideas we [SGA] are using now came from last year’s student government convention.”

Liske feels that SGA members who attended the conference gained valuable knowledge and ideas to better improve the organization’s role across campus.

“I think it helped move our student government forward,” Liske said. “After attending the conference, we realized we have a lot more influence on campus than just the power of the dollar.”