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FCNL Spring 2014 Lobbying Conference

A group of Haverford students participated in Friends Committee on National Legislation's Spring Lobbying Conference in Washington, D.C. in March. Students learned how to lobby effectively, then met with their congressional representatives to lobby them in person.

Over the weekend of March 22, a group of 11 Haverford students traveled down to Washington, D.C. to participate in the FCNL Spring 2014 Lobbying Conference. The Haverford delegation was joined by students from Guilford College, Wilmington College, Carolina Friends School, and other Quaker organizations. While Haverford has sent students to FCNL’s bi-annual conference every semester for many years, this spring’s theme was especially exciting for students.

The conference focused on the endless War on Terror and killer drones. These efforts centered around repealing the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF). This piece of legislation, passed immediately following the September 11th terrorist attacks, gives the military carte blanche for any military action needed to defend the United States from the threat of terror. This has been extended to justify the ongoing wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya, the many unwarranted killer drone strikes, and the unlawful Guantanamo Bay detention center practices. Repealing this piece of legislation has received bi-partisan support in both the House and the Senate and from President Obama.

Over the course of many panels and speakers at the conference, students had the chance to dig deeper into the issues surrounding the AUMF: unlawful detention at Guantanamo, lack of accountability for drone strikes in the middle east, and the expansion of military bases in foreign countries, among many others. Individual students felt particularly passionate about certain issues.

After briefing students on the devastating international impacts the AUMF continues to have, the conference provided a series of workshops on effective lobbying strategies. Some of these were focused on the individual lobbying visits, but one of the other workshops that students felt was most valuable was on persuasive OpEd writing. Haverford students remarked that they felt very well prepared for their lobbying visits with their Congressional Representatives.

During another panel on Monday afternoon, Haverford student Rosemary Ventura ’16 spoke with four other student leaders who had been selected for the FCNL Spring Lobby Weekend Organizing Fellowship. The panel focused on the challenges and strategies of community organizing and coalition building.

When it came time to actually lobby their congressional representatives, students remarked that they felt their meetings were highly successful. Several students’ representatives followed up with them to tell them that they had decided to co-sponsor legislation to repeal the AUMF. What a victory!

After long days spent participating in workshops and lobbying representatives, the Haverford delegation relaxed in a local hostel and cooked a delicious communal meal. Sharing time, space, and food brought the group much closer, and everyone went home exhausted, but thoroughly satisfied. All in all, this spring’s lobbying weekend was a tremendous success.

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Originally posted at: http://www.haverford.edu/news/stories/78424/311