Climbing Capitol Hill

PPP students travel to Washington, D.C., to study public policy issues

By: Meredith Francis ~Campus News Editor~

Students from the Philosophy, Politics and the Public (PPP) program at Xavier got a glimpse into the world of Washington, D.C., politics when they participated in the program’s annual public policy trip from March 14-17.

Each year, the sophomore PPP students select public policy issues to study in the spring semester. In March, the students travel to Washington to meet with experts in congressional offices, non-profit organizations, think tanks and lobbyist firms in order to learn more about their issues.

This year, the sophomores split into two policy groups: affordable housing and medical amnesty.
Shannon Price, who is part of the affordable housing group, said current developments in Cincinnati inspired her group to study the issue.

“We realize that this is an issue that’s at the heart of a lot of the social justice issues that Cincinnati is facing, especially as the downtown center redevelops and affordable housing is no longer as available as it used to be,” Price said.

Ben Moore was part of the medical amnesty group, which advocates for policies that protect students from getting into trouble if a friend becomes ill from alcohol or drug use.
“With medical amnesty, the idea is to bridge the ethical or moral gap that occurs when two underage people are engaging in underage alcohol consumption. One gets dangerously drunk, and the other should call for help, but fails to for fear of getting themselves in trouble or their friend,” Moore said.

Sean Comer, the assistant director for government relations and a 2012 Xavier alum, teaches the class that leads students to Washington.

“It’s really rewarding to watch a pretty incredible and significant transformation in a period of 36 hours,” Comer said. “The students in here can speak the same language as someone talking to Speaker Boehner or talking to all the leadership and making significant things happen in the Capitol.”

The students met with over 30 offices, including Senator Sherrod Brown and Speaker of the House John Boehner, in just two days. According to Moore, meeting with these offices can prove to be a little intimidating.

“You really get thrust into the moment,” Moore said. “It’s a little bit learning on the fly, and it’s a little bit intimidating. But if you go into it in the right mindset, that you’re here to accomplish something, and that you know you can do it and you know the material, there’s no fear involved.”

For many of the students who want to pursue careers in politics, the trip serves as a useful experience and as a look into the lives of people who live and work in Washington.
“It’s really just about getting this incredible experience in D.C., about learning about the issue, how it plays out on a national level and how people who really do this for a living interact on a daily basis,” Price said.