Union University students won a total of five awards at the first National Model Congress in Washington, D.C. Feb. 26-28, including “Outstanding Delegation”.
Union was one of seven schools represented at National Model Congress, an event that simulates the United States Congress by allowing students to fill of the role of a current U.S. senator for several days. Students write and vote on bills, attend party caucuses and debate legislation.
“‘Outstanding Delegation’ means that out of that, out of the seven schools there, we performed the best in debating bills, writing bills, working in committees and in our participation overall,” said Jenaye White, senior public relations major. “I’m really proud of our delegation, especially since it was the first year we had attended an event like this.”
White also won the “Outstanding Senator” award. Three Union students won “Distinguished Senator” awards: Michael Adkisson, senior business administration major; Morgan Kroeger, senior Spanish and accounting double major; and Garrett Wilson, sophomore economics major. Two other union students attended: Eddie Echeverria, a sophomore political science major, and Seth Reid, a freshman political science and history major.
White said she thought the group’s experience at Tennessee Intercollegiate State Legislature (TISL) earlier this school year contributed to their success as a delegation. TISL is similar to National Model Congress, but students operate as themselves, not current politicians, and both houses of Congress are represented instead of just Senate.
“TISL prepared us for what to expect in debate, parliamentary procedure, and how to relate to the other delegates there. That experience definitely contributed to that success, both on an individual and group level,” she said.
Kroeger said that while experience at TISL helped the group know what to expect, there were key differences at National Model Congress that proved both challenging and enjoyable. For instance, since the students were operating as current senators and not themselves, they didn’t get to pick their political party or stance on issues.
“Adding the whole party dynamic was really interesting. It forced those of us who were assigned to a different party or even ideology to have to think outside the box and argue perhaps against things we personally held to be true,” she said. “I liked that we were really able to push ourselves to think on the opposite side because I believe that can strengthen our personal beliefs.”
During their free time, they were able to see the House of Representatives in session, a debate in Senate and several Smithsonian’s and monuments.
“I loved being able to observe the debates of actual senators – their wording; their tactics; their speech-it’s all fascinating,” said Kroeger.
White said she simply enjoyed being in the city itself.
“It was incredible to be in our nation’s capitol, especially while we were at a conference to learn about senate procedure,” she said.