Posted: March 20, 2017, 1:09pm
Last weekend, I flew to Washington, DC with a couple other USC students who are also a part of our Graduate Student Government (GSG). As a school with more graduate students than undergrads, USC is a member of the National Association of Graduate and Professional Students (NAGPS), a student-run organization dedicated to “improving the quality of life of graduate and professional students across the United States”. They cover issues in both public and private universities at all levels – local, state, regional, and national. To create real change on college campuses, NAGPS hosts Legislative Action Days (LAD) every semester to advocate to policy makers at a federal level. On Saturday and Sunday, we went through several training sessions led by the NAGPS board and partner organizations, including the National Education Association and the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, and learned about the do’s and don’ts of congressional office visits.
This year, our two major platforms were securing health insurance for graduate students and addressing sexual assault on campuses. Teaming up with the other Californian schools, UCSD and UC Davis, we went to Capitol Hill and sat down with the offices of Representatives Matsui, Aguilar, Garamendi, Valadao, and Roybal-Allard, and Senator Feinstein. Although most of these congressional offices were left-leaning and supportive of our leave-behinds, it was still important for us to share our personal stories and give these issues more weight. Especially with the proposed cuts to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and more, it is more important than ever to appeal to our state legislators. Now that I’ve been trained and have some experience, I hope I can go again in the fall and make a larger impact!