Learning to lobby: Social work students set to gain experience in Columbus

The junior social work students will attend lobby day in Columbus on March 31 to meet with legislators to discuss issues currently under discussion in Ohio.

The students will be going to the State House, training for two or three hours and going to the legislators’ offices.

“Lobbying is informing a legislator. Legislators have lots of thing on their plate, so lobbying is often a way of informing a legislator about your position on a particular issue,” said Jane Hoyt-Oliver, chair of the social work and psychology program.

According to Hoyt-Oliver, every year the social work program goes to Columbus because social work involves making changes to society.

“[The social work program] goes to Columbus every year to talk about specific issues, usually around social work. [For example], health care, human trafficking and other issues like that,” said Hoyt-Oliver.  “Some issues that we looked at before are reimbursement for student loans and loan forgiveness for social workers who work with underserved populations.”

The National Association of Social Workers works with legislators around issues in Ohio and informs students coming to lobby day, also giving them opportunities to talk to legislators and their aides.

Ravyn Workman, junior social work major, will attend and lobby.

“Lobby day, otherwise known as advocacy day, is a day that nongovernment organizations come together and talk about problems with legislature,” said Workman.

The representatives’ responses will also matter to Workman.

“If I like [a representative’s] answer then they will be in my mind for a while. I will probably look towards them when I start thinking of [changing something in government],” said Workman.

Mary Hankton, junior social work major, is excited to attend.

According to Hankton, lobbying involves not only picking an issue, but researching where a representative stands on the issue, as well as what committees they are a part of and seeing who is sponsoring the bill. Also, telling a personal story and giving a face to the issue is important.

“One of our assignments is to write a letter and send it into the legislator. We pick something that is important to us that is on the table right now, and we get to bring it up to [the representatives],” said Hankton.

“It would be really nice to hear them do something about human trafficking because it is a big issue in Ohio,” said Hankton.

 

Cathy Weyand is a staff writer for The Aviso

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