By Whitney Jones, News Editor
Seventeen Union students traveled to Nashville for a mock legislation and competition session, Nov. 17–21, and won Best Delegation, making this the third consecutive year the university team has received the honor.
This year students from 40 colleges met in the state’s House and Senate chambers to propose, debate and pass bills at the Tennessee Intercollegiate State Legislation.
The mock session, which has four programs — legislative, judicial, lobbying and media — allows students to have an impact on state government and sharpen their debate skills.
Kirby Lewis, junior political science major, said the student-run sessions are more than a way for students to gain experience with legislation and politics. He said TISL provides insight for state legislators as well.
“TISL serves as a lobbying group because it lets legislators know what college students in Tennessee want,” Lewis said.
At TISL the students’ bills are first sent to the mock House, and if they pass they go to the mock Senate. The TISL governor signs all of the bills that pass in both the House and the Senate.
The executive committee then votes on the passed bills, making a “top-10” list which is put in the “TISL Blue Book” that is presented to the actual Tennessee legislative assemblies in 2012.
Karl Magnuson, senior engineering major, said the Union students at TISL began preparing for the event in September. They met with professors such as Dr. C. Ben Mitchell, Graves professor of moral philosophy, and Dr. Micah Watson, director of the Center for Politics and Religion, to learn about ethical and political issues that might arise during the bill-writing and legislative session.
Union passed five bills in both the House and Senate, ranging from enforcing health inspections for school cafeterias to protecting children from repeated domestic abuse.
In addition to winning best delegation, Union had a write-in candidate win the election for next year’s speaker pro tem, which Lewis said “was probably the best thing that’s ever happened at TISL for Union.”
Michael Adkisson, freshman business administration major, was put on the write-in ballot because of a relationship Union had formed with Vanderbilt University. Only one candidate ran for speaker pro tem, but Lewis said Vanderbilt asked the Union team if they had anyone who could run against the candidate as a write-in.
“Networking with other colleges is something Union has been really good at,” said Jenaye White, freshman broadcast journalism major. “We have some strong connections with other schools.”
Adkisson was not the only student to be chosen for a leadership position for next year’s TISL. Lewis will serve as the Supreme Court justice.