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Junior political science major David Asbra traveled to Washington, D.C., to lobby for the Collegiate Housing and Infrastructure Act with approximately 105 students from various universities across the nation with the Fraternal Government Relations Coalition.
The advocates from various Greek organizations came together to advocate for the Act, which would call for equal treatment for all not-for-profit housing under the law and for more awareness for sexual assault issues on campus.
The Act, if passed, would allow for alumni to make tax deductible donations to Greek housing. Greek houses are typically more than 50 years old and in need of renovations, yet without alumni funding, this is not possible.
The Act, first introduced in 2003, has bipartisan support but is too small to get passed on its own.
Despite the fact that La Verne does not have Greek housing, Asbra advocated on behalf of Greek organizations nation wide.
During his time in D.C. Asbra said he learned valuable lessons about the legislative process, lobbying, how congress works, and how to make, formulate and actually push an agenda in Congress.
He also learned about how bills are made, the process in which they are marked up and how challenging it can be to get something passed.
“What was really interesting was to see where the power lies within Congress,” Asbra, member of Phi Delta Theta Fraternity, said.
“There’s so much (Congress members are) occupied by that you really see the power really lies within the staffers themselves because they give the recommendations to the congressional members,” he said.
While on the trip Asbra had the opportunity to meet with a few members of Congress, and was trained as a lobbyist.
Sigma Kappa advisory board supervisor Jaime Riley urged Asbra to apply for the lobbying program.
“Sigma Kappa has been sending representatives for years and they did a call out through the national organization, and some of the criteria they had given was an interest in politics, leaders within the sorority and then especially leaders within the student government,” Riley said.
Asbra, as the president of the Associated Students of the University of La Verne and a leader in Greek life, fit the criteria for the program.
Ava Jahanvash, a University of La Verne alumna also urged Asbra to apply for the program after having her own positive experiences.
Jahanvash attended the lobbying program twice in her collegiate years, and lobbied for the same Act Asbra was advocating while on the trip.
“It was not only just a cool individual experience that we get to say that we did but also a good experience to say that we represented La Verne on a national level,” Jahanvash said.
Asbra hopes to return to D.C. in the future and is planning to apply to the Fraternal Government Relations Coalition’s lobbying program next year.
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