Visit the HIll

On Thursday, February 27, higher education professionals, school counselors, grad students, and high school and middle school students all came together for one event: Visit the Hill. Visit the Hill is an annual event hosted by Iowa ACAC’s Government Relations Committee. It is a time to gather and learn more about the various issues that students, educators, and educational institutions face and be informed on ways we can make a difference on these issues.

The day kicked off with a welcome from Susie Hakeman, Chair of the Government Relations Committee, then launched into guest speakers before closing with lunch and a trip to Iowa’s Capitol building.

A wide range of important topics were covered by the guest speakers, starting with a presentation on undocumented students. This outlined what it means to be undocumented as well as addressing the extra hurdles that these students face when trying to get an education.

Next, those in attendance learned about campus sexual assault and Title IX policies. We were told about the work that’s been done to educate people on these policies and the importance of beginning this education early, starting with K-12.

We also heard from Future Ready Iowa on the work they do to help students understand their options outside of a traditional four-year bachelor’s degree program.

The final guest speaker was from Iowa Safe Schools and addressed the various forms of bullying that students experience, specifically LGBTQ youth, and the policies being presented or already in place to protect these students. He also made us aware of legislation that might negatively affect these students and gave pointers on what can be done to oppose this.

It was encouraging to see the involvement of the students and professionals who attended Visit the Hill. Each presentation was followed by in depth questions on the topic. There was a clear and genuine interest in the issues and a passion to advocate on behalf of them.

To better equip everyone to bring these issues to the capital, we were offered advocacy training. All those in attendance were provided information on the representatives they would need to speak with and given guidance on best practices when seeking out and talking with a representative.

Before heading to the capital, we were able to hear from Michael Rose, NACAC’s Director for Government Relations. He discussed various things going on in the organization and mentioned other topics we could advocate for.

Overall, the event was extremely informative. The speakers were knowledgeable on the issues and presented them in a way that was understandable for all ages in attendance. Everyone there left with ideas and tools on how to make a difference.

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