Photos by Adam Rogan.
ONLINE EXCLUSIVE BY ADAM ROGAN
UNITY Roundtable, a Drake University governing body comprised of 14 multicultural student organizations, took an advocative role in getting more students to take part in politics outside of the voting booth.
Tabling on Jan. 31 in the Olmsted Breezeway, members of UNITY invited passers-by to stop for a moment to call elected officials on the phone and voice their opinions. Students were allowed to call about whatever they would like, although UNITY had several brightly colored posters with suggestions displayed on the wall behind its table.
“A lot of the issues that we are calling about effect a lot of the students, especially the students in the UNITY organizations,” Equity & Inclusion Student Senator Deshauna Carter said. “By doing this, we’re letting students know who to call. We’re giving them direction on how to call so we can reach out and let our senators and representatives know the issues that we see from the policies that are coming forward.”
The posters included recommendations on who to call, phone etiquette and what issues to bring up. The phone numbers for Representative David Young, Senator Joni Ernst — the two Iowans representing Des Moines in Washington D.C. — and Governor Terry Branstad were included as well.
The issues and opinions suggested to callers were largely opposed to the platform laid out by recently inaugurated President Donald Trump. Signs proclaimed messages like “Save Planned Parenthood” and “OPPOSE BETSY DEVOS FOR SECRETARY OF EDUCATION.”
One poster broke down the major torts of the controversial executive order signed by Trump on Jan. 27 that halted immigration from seven countries for 90 days. Another supported The Bridge Act, a bipartisan bill that aims to delay or prevent deportation for undocumented immigrants who entered the US while they were still underage.
Of course, students are allowed to call politicians about any issues they feel inclined to. Senior Student Senator Jackie Heymann said that she simply hopes to encourage her peers to get more involved in the political process.
“It encourages students to stay involved in civic engagement past the voting booth,” Heymann said. “So many people got fired up about voting, which is awesome and I love it, but there’s also ways to stay civically engaged year-round.”
One such student was senior Jamie Willer. She admitted to not being hugely knowledgeable about every issue presented by UNITY, but expressed a desire to become engaged and learn more.
“I feel it’s really a civic duty to be calling and to be paying attention and to stay aware,” Willer said. “I think it’s really just to show (our representatives) that people are paying attention.”
Willer was also motivated to call because of her disagreement with several governmental practices, particularly considering restrictions on immigration and increases in deportations, actions she considers “unconstitutional.”
Heymann wants to see the calls her and her peers are making bring about actual change when it comes to public policy.
“You never know with senators and congressmen in general what is going to be the tipping point,” Heymann said. “If they get 25 calls for one side and 20 calls for one side, then who knows? They might swap because their constituents are responding more one way than the other.”
UNITY plans to table every Tuesday from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. with the same goals.