Student lobbyists from the University of Idaho made national headlines after an altercation with Idaho Sen. Dan Foreman Monday at the Idaho State Capitol.
The students, part of the Planned Parenthood Generation Action group at UI, traveled to Boise intending to meet with North Idaho lawmakers to discuss the 12 Months of Birth Control legislation.
But, early in the morning, Foreman cancelled the meeting, leaving the students a little perplexed. The group left a note in Foreman’s office with a condom and Planned Parenthood button attached, and waited outside hoping to speak with him between meetings.
Later in the day, when Foreman passed the group in the hallway, an altercation occurred. A video recording showed Forman saying, “I am a Roman Catholic. I am a conservative Republican. I think what you guys do stinks.”
Foreman concluded by saying “Next time you walk in my office, you are going to be dealing with ISP (Idaho State Police).”
There is almost no better way to represent your beliefs and call for action than to lobby. Without student lobbyists bringing awareness to these many important issues, our voices cannot be heard. Being a lobbyist means supporting something you truly believe in, and college is the perfect place to express these thoughts. By representing UI, students have an even greater chance to sit down with politicians and persuade them of their cause.
And it’s expected that politicians return the favor. Foreman showed a lack of both civility and understanding, lashing out at students who had driven hundreds of miles to try and support their cause.
While it might be more difficult to be taken seriously as a young student, or someone whose views don’t directly align with the politician, politicians must still put forth the effort to listen to their constituents. By disregarding student lobbyists completely, Foreman expressed a lack of care, slamming their views just for being different than his own.
But professionalism goes both ways. The note in Foreman’s office contained certain phrases might irritate rather than inform. “I believe this is the definition of not doing your job,” and “Happy Hiding!” are less than ideal ways to persuade someone to join your cause, and instead push them even further away.
After the news broke, there were hundreds of comments on all news sites with often less than professional discourse. Of course, disagreements are a healthy part of learning. However, we can all remember to be professional, even behind the screen.
Foreman’s actions were inexcusable. But, as students we must act with heightened professionalism to even get our foot in the door.
Students are already at a disadvantage, having to work harder and act more professional to be taken seriously. It’s important for both sides to be professional and courteous of the other, meeting in the middle to discuss their ideas and try to produce change, even if they might be resistant.
When college students get involved in politics, we should pay attention, especially when they are UI students. Not only are they representing some of our beliefs on a greater level, but we might learn a thing or two, as well. Change comes about in many ways, and lobbying is one of the greatest ways a college student can rally behind it.
We should be proud of politically active students on the national and local level, and continue to support them in their political endeavors.