California Advocacy Day gives students a voice in legislation
March 27-28, I had the opportunity to participate in the
California Ignatian Student Advocacy Day hosted by Jesuit’s West
Collaborative Organizing for Racial Equity (CORE).
The event had students from Jesuit schools spanning across the state of California gather at Jesuit High School Sacramento to prepare for legislative meetings with their local government representatives to advocate for policies regarding CORE’s current primary concerns: housing, climate, and migration.
I signed up to take part in this event to continue my increasing interest and involvement in advocacy and the legislative process. After attending events such as the Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice (IFTJ), I realized the importance of involving yourself in local government and voicing your concerns to people in positions of power.
On Sunday, the 27th, all the participating schools arrived, including Loyola High School and Verbum Dei Jesuit High School from Los Angeles, Archbishop Mitty High School and Bellarmine College Preparatory from San Jose, Mater Dei High School from San Diego, and Saint Ignatius College Preparatory from San Francisco.
Day one was spent preparing for our legislative meetings taking place on Monday, the 28th. To prepare, we shared information and advice about what would happen during these meetings and how we could handle them professionally. One main point that was emphasized was that we come to these meetings to share our experiences and personal testimonies to create interpersonal relationships with our legislators.
Students also hosted workshops discussing other topics they found important and in need of addressing. I hosted a workshop along with Jayden Canio ’25 about the importance of culture in today’s society and the positive and negative aspects of multiculturalism. Other workshops addressed topics such as the crisis in Yemen, bringing advocacy back to your campus, and cultivating inclusion in your school.
Following these workshops, students met together one final time to discuss what each person gained from the experience. It was a heartwarming moment to see so many young and passionate students taking the initiative to immerse themselves in researching the problems they find especially urgent in the world today.
The time for our legislative meetings came on Monday. Students from Jesuit High School Sacramento met with staff members of Assembly Member Kevin McCarty and Senator Robert Niello. The meetings were highly conversational, with students sharing personal testimonies about each of the topics we surfaced. Students also asked for the support of specific bills that their groups decided on in prior preparation meetings. Some bills included SB 567, regarding homelessness prevention; AB 9, regarding caps on greenhouse emissions; and SB 227, regarding a program for excluded workers.
After each school attended their legislative meetings, the plan was to met together in front of the capital to share our experiences regarding housing, climate, and migration in a public setting to show the importance of our work as CORE. Unfortunately, my group was not able to attend the public event because the timing of one of our legislative meetings conflicted with it.
Our final stop for the day was at the California Catholic Conference to meet with Ms. Samara Palko and Ms. Linda Wanner, who both work with the Catholic Conference which advocates for certain bills regarding the concerns of the Catholic Church. During this final meeting, the schools discussed how their legislative meetings went, shared any new insights they gained, and brought up any next steps for us to take. We learned more about advocacy and specific policies that the diocese is currently working on and how we can involve ourselves more by sharing our experiences from that day with our local Jesuit parishes.
Being there with my classmates was a great experience, and I really enjoyed being an advocate for policies that my peers and I think will make great strides in helping with the housing, climate, and migration crises. I recommend participating in advocacy events like this, not only just to learn and experience first-hand how the legislative process works and what factors currently affect the nation at the time, but also to make a change in the world to help those who are in need.