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Student Projects

Students at the Ramapo College of New Jersey directed their advocacy efforts, as a class, toward getting their state to come out against the Bush Administration’s plan to privatize social security. In addition, they sought to inform other students about the importance of this issue and how it will affect the younger generations. With the combined efforts of their class and other supporters, Senate bill 94 was passed, mandating that the state strike down privatizing social security.

Lisa Brown, Joy Furman, Laura Schroeder, Erin Stearns and Kristine Wellman of Presentation College advocated for the passage of HB 1229 in the South Dakota Legislature. If passed, this bill would require standards for family day care providers. During the process, they contacted the Senators and Representatives that supported and opposed the bill in hopes of garnering support. Unfortunately, the bill did not pass; however, the advocacy experience was empowering to the students.

Jamie Kern, Erick McElroy, Andrea Ruhnke, Andy Cowan and Erica Hardy of Presentation College in South Dakota researched whether or not it was feasible to create and run a homeless shelter in their town. Through their research, they found that many key legislators supported this idea in their local town, Aberdeen. Out of this realization has grown plans for working to draw funds, and build and run a homeless shelter for next year’s advocacy project.

Amanda Zeiders of the University of Pittsburgh is an advocate and co-chair of the Save Our Transit (SOT) group in Allegheny County, PA. As the co-chair, she organized rallies, marches, pickets, researched relevant legislation & information and communicated with necessary community leaders. Through her efforts, a new fare increase that was supposed to take place in March of 2005 has been tabled.

Peter Ninemire of Wichita State University lobbied for the passage of SB 2231 in the Kansas legislature. SB 2231 is a retroactive drug treatment bill that would close a loophole in a previous bill allowing 516 men and women out of prison and into a drug treatment facility. In his efforts, Peter organized a Legislative Task Force with legislators to help pass the bill.

Anna Long of Seattle University served on the “Tent City” planning committee at her university. Anna’s time with the committee was spent coordinating efforts to provide adequate shelter for the homeless people that would be living on the Seattle University Campus during the month of February. This experience piqued her interest in understanding homelessness, so she attended a lobby day at her state legislature. This in turn led to her interning for Senator Maria Cantwell.

Elizabeth Berry, Kathleen Lokey, and Annie Ross of Union University led opposition against HB 1542/SB 0811, which would remove the requirement of the chief security officer of a college/university to notify local law enforcement if an alleged rape were to occur unless the victim wants them to be notified. This bill was created to help the reputations of schools. Unfortunately, though they lobbied for its demise, the bill passed in committee.

Amber Dixon, Whitney Morreau, Rachel Peterson and Victoria Shackelford of Union University campaigned for HB1116/SB 0556, which would eliminate the spousal rape exception to Tennessee law. From their research, they developed a policy brief and a brief documentary DVD detailing their findings on spousal rape. In addition, they published an article in a local newspaper. At the time of this paper, the bill was still being debated.

Students at the University of Washington advocated for and helped successfully pass a Mental Health Parity bill, which had been defeated eight times in the Washington State legislature. This bill would require insurance companies to cover mental health illnesses as if they are physical illnesses. Throughout the advocacy project the group distributed support letters to officials, created slogan “Be a Lifesaver for Mental Health” along with buttons and sent letters that were put in the local newspaper.

Angelly Cardenas of Nyack College sought to get the Student Adjustment Act passed so that undocumented students brought over by illegal parents, who have the potential, will be able to go to college receiving in state tuition. To garner support for this bill, Angelly formed “Students with a Dream” to advocate for this bill.

Students at the University of Washington at Tacoma recently advocated for the dissolution of three bills in their state legislature that would cut funding to domestic violence legal advocacy programs. Students created a fact sheet and put on a elaborate, well-done rally in support of their efforts. In the end, funding was still cut but not at the levels, the governor has asked for.

Students at the University of Arkansas traveled to their state capital in Little Rock to advocate for the passage of HB 1078, which would appropriate 40 million dollars for pre-K programs. In addition to lobbying at the state capital, the students distributed fact sheets, joined forces with a Coalition and emailed state and local officials in hopes of gathering support for this bill.

Alicia Dean and Kristen Thoen of Winona State University lobbied for “No New Taxes” in their state legislature. They advocated against new taxes because of a rise in student loan debts, which are compounded by low wages and decreasing benefits for social workers.

Kristine Lindell of Luther College in Iowa tracked and lobbied against bills that would limit a woman’s right to choose abortion and the ready access to comprehensive family planning that discusses abortion as an option. In her efforts, Kristin contacted the author of these bills to voice her dissent and attended a pro-choice lobby day.

Rachel Fate of Luther College advocated for the inclusion of eating disorders and substance abuse in the mental heath parity law. Rachel lobbied for this through letters she sent to a local paper and Iowa Legislators.

Laura Robinson of Luther College advocated for the Campaign for a U.S. Department of Peace. Laura supported this campaign by writing letters to her U.S. Senators and Representatives. In addition, Laura addressed several students with her advocacy piece, garnering their support.

Kara Kulzer of Luther College researched and lobbied three bills in the Iowa legislation regarding women’s rights. Through her work, Laura learned how she could affect what was being decided in her state.

Lindsey Hoodjer of Luther College lobbied for the passage of gay and lesbian marriage acts in her state of Iowa and in the United States. Lindsey sent signed letters and emails to members of the Senate in Iowa and in the U.S. government. Lindsey stated that she learned that persistence is vital to any advocacy project.

Rachel Jensen of Luther College sought to raise awareness of the Mine Treaty Ban in the United States and lobby for the U.S. to support the treatise. To accomplish this Rachel created information flyers surrounding the Mine Treaty Ban and our government’s reluctance to support it. Furthermore, Rachel created a letter writing campaign on topic and sent it to the President of the United States. In all, there were 40 letters sent to the President.


Student Projects

MSW students at the University of South Carolina sought to convince state representatives to vote against cutting the Dept. of Social Services budget. The group of students created and mailed out an information packet about potential budget cuts to D.S.S workers, clients and others that would be affected by the cuts. These students empowered many people to help themselves in this process.

MSW students at the University of South Carolina organized to raise awareness in their community about a potentially harmful bill known as “Put Parents in Charge”. With their hard work, these students were able to hold an educational forum, with knowledgeable, influential speakers concerning this bill.

Elizabeth Bienz of Case Western’s MSW program organized the rally and lobby day for the grassroots coalition that she belongs, Advocates for Budget Legislation Equality (ABLE). Elizabeth was able to recruit over 1,500 Cleveland residents to attend, coordinated bus travel, trained the bus drivers and provided food for attendees. In addition, an estimated 4,000 people from other groups showed up to support the rally/lobby day.

Sarah Bounds, Stephanie Hewitt, Sandi Johnson, and Lesley Plugge of Salisbury University MSW program campaigned for psychological evaluations to be made mandatory for juveniles with animal cruelty backgrounds while under the watch of the Dept. Juvenile Services. The students hope to garner support for the creation of a bill later this year.

Students at the Washington University in St. Louis formed a task force to provide clarification on important issues concerning Medicaid in Missouri. This task force created a 45-page report of their findings and recommendations and disseminated these findings in a 30-minute presentation presented on local, state and national levels.

Allen Braswell, Kim Cassie, Chris Chardos, Megan McClary and Kelly Owen of the University of Tennessee worked to help current “Medicare” style program TennCare recipients from losing their current benefits. The group distributed over 300 flyers to Knoxville residents and sent 56 letters to a state representative on the TennCare Oversight Committee.

Carrie Corthan-Williams of the University of Texas at Austin advocated for consolidated and more organized data collection on court proceeding involving family violence. She hopes that with this change, Texas will be able to better assess the effectiveness and implementation of current family violence polices whereby reducing future incidents.

MSW students at the University of South Carolina tracked and advocated for S49, a mental health parity bill that would require insurance companies to cover mental illness the same way they cover physical illness. These students aligned themselves with other advocates of this bill, specifically with two of the students testifying before the House Banking and Insurance subcommittee.

Sarah Garlington, McClain Sampson and Amy Wilson of the University of Tennessee advocated for the blockage of a bill that allowed pharmacists the choice of not filling prescriptions that are not morally agreeable to them and for the passage of a bill that require hospitals to provide factual information and access to emergency contraception. After this project, these future MSW’s better understand the political process and how to advocate within it.

Jennifer Glick, Karina Lewis, Kathryn Price and Jason Ostrander of the University of Connecticut organized their efforts to educate social workers and others on the importance of voter registration and political participation. They distributed information packets on conducting voter registration drives, regulations, FAQ’s and 449 voter registration cards to MSW students. Along with this, students played an integral part in the passage of a voting bill in the state legislature.

Jessica Honke and Matthew Winters of Virginia Commonwealth University endeavored to eliminate the juvenile death penalty through their legislative advocacy and grassroots organizing effort. Through their work, a record number of state legislators sponsored this bill and it was sent to study. Because the bill was not killed, all who supported it considered the effort successful.

You Mi Jo and Monet Traeye of the University of South Carolina advocacy project goals were to increase awareness for those eligible for food stamps, create ways to decrease food stamp stigma and ensure no more cuts would be made to the state food stamp budget. With robust research on hunger in South Carolina, You and Monet created and distributed a fact sheet to people around the capital building entitled: Hunger in South Carolina

Erin McAleer of Boston College University coordinated the NASW’s “Legislative Clearinghouse and Lobby Day”. The lobby day which has been held for over 40 years, brought in many distinguished guests including State Senators and Representatives as guest speakers. With more than 400 supporters attending, Erin’s efforts culminated in one of the most well attended lobby days in recent years.

Students at the University of South Carolina teamed up with the Carolina Peace resource center to campaign against a section in the No Child Left Behind Act that allowed for student contact information to be sent to military recruiters. The students collected and developed a myriad of fact sheets and brochures on this mandate. Their efforts to protect student information have so successful that they were recorded for a CBS Nightly News spot.

Mark Meachem and Travis Johnson of the University of South Carolina advocated against Senate Bill 165 in the state legislature that would reduce the amount of funding Drug and Alcohol treatment facilities receive each year. After in depth research, Mark and Travis developed a Fact Sheet of the consequences of this bill and mailed it to the bill’s sponsors.

Students at the University of Houston School of Social Work worked through their legislative internships with state representative to help these elected officials understand policy through a social work perspective not just a fiscal one. These students were responsible for analyzing, tracking and recommending if their representatives or senators should support the bill or not. During the process, the students became known for their advocacy of tax equality, worker’s comp fairness, better school conditions and Medicaid clients

Nancy Padron and Anastasia Karloutsos of Fordham University supported the loan forgiveness bill in New York that would help address the economic hardship that social workers face when working with underprivileged clients. Through their efforts, they were able to help this bill pass and potentially enable more than 55,000 social workers rid themselves of debt.

Andria Salucka and Julie Ramirez of the University of Texas at Austin conducted a research project on whether or not protective orders alleviated spousal abuse and fostered feelings of safety among victims. The researchers concluded that a statewide system that reported the number of protective issues ordered and violations of these would benefit legislators in better policy creation.

Peri Stone Palmquist of the University of Michigan designed an independent study of the lives of children expelled from school. In January 2005, Peri published her 34-page report entitled “Nowhere to Go”, documenting the hardships of these children. In it she makes policy recommendations that would ensure that all of these children would receive an education during their expulsion. Finally, she mailed copies of the report to every state legislator, school superintendent and other policy makers.

Ashira Wendler of Indiana University campaigned for better social program assistance to victims of violent and sexual crimes. Through Ashira’s legislative advocacy, aid for this problem was sent to study this year and will be voted on in the 2006 state assembly.

Raylissa Batten, Beth Crumley, Korlu McCainster, Stephanie Peveler and Latammera Woodley of the University of Tennessee supported and advocated for the “Voluntary Pre-K Act for Tennessee” which would create a Pre-K program for four year olds in Tennessee. During their advocacy, these students met with legislators and lobbyists to educate them about the bill.

Dr. Kathy Byers | (812) 855-4427 |