College Leaders' Policy Proposal Becomes Actual Legislation

Jan 19 2006 - 4:54pm

During the course of the Sorensen Institute's College Leaders Program, which runs each summer on grounds at the University of Virginia, students work in small groups on real-world public policy issues facing Virginia. The students research and write their own policy proposals, including an analysis of the political realities of getting their bill passed at the state level.

Students then apply the skills training that they have received during the program by lobbying for their bills with Delegates and Senators. They even enjoy a mock radio or television interview where they learn to advocate for their proposals with journalists.

At the end of the College Leaders Program the students present their ideas to a panel of legislators, political journalists, academics, and political commentators for feedback.

During the College Leaders Program Class of 2005, the "Public Health Group" included students Ryan Benton of George Mason University, Kellie Hanlon of James Madison University, Vineet Mehta of the University of Virginia, Elizabeth Scott of the University of Virginia, and Mallery Spencer of Radford University. This group focused their research on the critical importance of testing in the prevention and treatment of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) on college campuses.

Their work during the program led to the creation of an actual bill that was recently introduced in the Virginia Senate.

Senate Bill 490, sponsored by Senator Frederick M. Quayle (R- Chesapeake), "requires Virginia four-year public colleges and universities to provide STI testing free of charge to students. In order to fund the requirement, the institutions may raise their student activities fee by $5."

This is a wonderful example of the true power at the heart of the Sorensen Institute's Youth Programs: by learning skills that they can immediately put to use in the real world, our students are better Informed, Thoughtful, and Active citizens that will benefit their communities and Virginia. We are indeed proud of these students, and we applaud them for their determination and success.

Kellie Hanlon and Elizabeth Scott present their policy proposal during the College Leaders Program, Summer 2005

Mallery Spencer and Vineet Mehta practice lobbying for their bill during a mock TV interview with Maurice Jones, former spokesman for the City of Charlottesville, now with the Miller Center, and a graduate of Sorensen's Political Leaders Program Class of 2002

Ryan Benton and Elizabeth Scott, Summer 2005