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Students launch advocacy series

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State Rep. Retinna Shannon gave tips on effective lobbying.

On a bright, unseasonably warm late February afternoon, dozens of Rollins students passed up the opportunity to sit in the sun or share a laugh with friends. Instead, they gathered in a classroom to listen to a representative from the Georgia legislature give tips about how to lobby effectively.

"In this political climate, I feel like it's important for me to learn how to advocate for issues that are important to me," says Anna Shao 18MPH, who attended the event.

The seminar, "Lobbying 101," was the second event in the student-led Rollins Advocacy Series. The series grew from student concern after the presidential election. After being approached several times by students looking for opportunities to learn advocacy skills, Rollins Student Government Association president Tina Mensa-Kwao 18MPH reached out to the leaders of the other Rollins student organizations. Together, they cobbled together the series, which kicked off in mid February with a seminar titled "What is Advocacy?"

Several other events are scheduled, each organized by a different student organization. Topics include environmental justice, advocacy in public health emergencies, and the local legislative process. The series also includes an effort every Thursday during lunch called "Tabling for Change." A table is manned by a student who encourages fellow students to call their representatives. Sample scripts on various topics related to public health are available, along with a list of all state representatives and their phone numbers.

"I am thrilled the students are organizing these workshops," says Karen Andes, assistant professor of global health, who spoke at the first seminar. "They are asking the same questions that many of us are right now—what can we do?"

The series will run through the end of the semester, and then Mensa-Kwao and other student leaders will see if there is demand to continue it.

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