June 6, 2012 -- Today, the Campus Progress organization sponsored an event on Capitol Hill titled "My Student Debt Day." Hundreds of college students who are interning in DC for the summer were invited to attend the event and advocate their lawmakers.
The day kicked off with a rally and press conference located on the Capitol Hill grounds. Senators Jack Reed (D-RI) and Tom Harkin (D-IA) addressed the students and the public promising to work hard to keep Stafford Subsidized interest rates from doubling to 6.8% in July. They urged students to remain actively involved in resolving the issue, and also asked for partisan cooperation from the Republicans.
After a quick meet and greet with the Senators, the students were split up into groups by state to have a brief "lobbying 101" training session in preparation for meetings that had been set up with the Education Staffers for our state Senators. I had a great supervisor, who gave very useful tips and directions on advocacy and lobbying. There were about eight students in my group from Maryland and we each had a speaking part when we met with the staffers.
I was responsible for giving a brief overview of the issue and providing personal remarks on how the interest rates would affect students. I found both the staffers for Senators Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) to be very engaged in our discussions and responsive to our advocacy. For a first time advocacy meeting, with seven other inexperienced interns, I thought that it went very well! I’m not sure how the interest rate issue will play out, but I’m glad that I was able to participate in the conversations and witness first hand advocacy and Democracy at work! I can’t wait to have more experiences like this throughout the summer!
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