For those enterprising students who enjoy politics, the Tennessee Intercollegiate State Legislature provides a perfect opportunity to practice legislation at a professional level.
TISL was attended this year by thirteen delegates from Union University, in addition to two officers, who were a part of the organization at the state level. The delegates spent the first weekend over Thanksgiving break debating various pieces of legislature, some of which Union students themselves wrote and proposed. TISL is meant to provide some real world experience for those who see a future in law or politics, but don’t have another opportunity to apply their actual knowledge.
Seth Reid, Junior History major, led the team from Union as Head Delegate.
“Head delegate is a coordinator position” said Reid. “I was responsible for scheduling meetings, overseeing new recruitment, planning meetings, coordinating transportation, and making sure everyone was where they needed to be at the right time while we were in Nashville.”
Reid ran the show this year, having been one of the junior delegates for the past two years. One of the challenges Reid faced as head delegate was having enough people. “There was a lot of new recruitment,” said Reid, “which was very challenging. It’s a great opportunity, but not a lot of people know about it.”
One of the challenges with recruitment was getting a diverse team together. “We lost all of our female delegates, and we only got two back, which was difficult” said Reid, lightly touching on one of the issues that might have hurt the Union team.
Seth Graves, Freshman Political Science major, and one of the junior senators, saw this issue play out personally with how few elections Union students won.
“There was a lot of competition this time,” said Graves. “A lot of focus was placed on diversity this year. You had people that were part of the black caucus, as well as several women running, and emphasis was placed on that a lot more than actual qualifications.”
Hannah Hartig, Junior Business Marketing major, saw this same issue play out, but saw it in a slightly different light.
“There are diverse people who have qualifications,” said Hannah, “and finding those people is good.” Seth Reid believes that this was more of a joking observation afterwards. “There wasn’t a lot of white men elected,” said Seth, “but I’m not convinced that diversity was the reason we lost the house and senate.”
Regardless of whether diversity played a role in TISL this year, all of Union’s delegates think it’s beneficial for TISL to look at electing different people.
“Diversity can be a good thing” said Graves. Diversity brings different ideas to the table.”
In addition, Graves was elected to be TISL’s attorney general, an incredible accomplishment, especially for a freshman. The inclusion of diversity helps Graves, who represents the majority, being a white male himself.
“Serving with a more diverse group of people will help me understand people who are different and understand what they want, how I can serve them better in the future,”he said.
Several interesting bills were discussed by the delegates from colleges all across Tennessee. Hartig was not only a senator, but also a part of the commerce committee, a group who reviewed the bills to see if they actually wanted to be discussed before they went to the floor for debate. There were two or three bills discussing the teaching of creationism in schools, and at least one bill regarding the amount of chickens allowed in an apartment at one time. Hartig, who is considering going into law at some point in the future, said “It was a really good experience to see how things actually worked. I already had the knowledge, but actually getting to be a part of the process was really beneficial.”
Graves has the largest aspirations of the TISL members, hoping to one day be the POTUS. He enjoyed every aspect of the weekend, and stated
“[TISL has] shown me that I have chosen the right career path. I have a heart for this type of work. I love listening to different bills, thinking about how it would influence me and the community as a whole, and how these laws would be able to better the nation.”
Seth Reid enjoyed the weekend, despite the vast responsibility that comes with being being the head delegate.
“My favorite moment was when I swapped in with either Seth Graves or Hannah Hartig, and saw them do a great job” said Reid. “I didn’t have to tell them what to do. They were both stars in their own right, dominating the house and senate. It was a very surreal moment.“
Reid, Graves, and Hartig all intend to do TISL again next year. Graves has expressed interest in running for Governor, or possibly Lieutenant governor, Hartig has said she would like to be more involved in the process, and Reid will most likely maintain his spot as Head delegate.