Luther platform chapter hosts advocacy meeting

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Luther platform chapter hosts advocacy meeting

Jennifer Mandelblatt chooses Hannah Stenoien (‘20), Kari-Anne Jensen (‘22), and Sadie Anderson (‘19) to be senators for the lobbying excercise.

Jennifer Mandelblatt chooses Hannah Stenoien (‘20), Kari-Anne Jensen (‘22), and Sadie Anderson (‘19) to be senators for the lobbying excercise.

Ursula Damtse (‘22) | Chips

Jennifer Mandelblatt chooses Hannah Stenoien (‘20), Kari-Anne Jensen (‘22), and Sadie Anderson (‘19) to be senators for the lobbying excercise.

Ursula Damtse (‘22) | Chips

Ursula Damtse (‘22) | Chips

Jennifer Mandelblatt chooses Hannah Stenoien (‘20), Kari-Anne Jensen (‘22), and Sadie Anderson (‘19) to be senators for the lobbying excercise.

Ursula Damtse, Staff Writer

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On March 12, the Luther chapter of Platform held a political advocacy workshop during their second meeting of the semester. Platform recently became an official Luther student organization at the beginning of the spring semester, creating a chapter at Luther that stems from the national Platform organization. Platform is a group that holds meetings to discuss the problems affecting women in politics and how women can become politically active to effect change.

According to the Platform national organization’s website, Platform is a “political training and lobbying organization dedicated to ensuring the voices of all who identify as young women, non-conforming, non-binary, and femme folx are heard in the rooms where decisions are made.” 

Ursula Damtse (‘22) | Chips
Mareda Smith (‘19) introduces Jennifer Mandelblatt.

The workshop was conducted by co-founder and executive director of Platform Jennifer Mandelblatt who flew in from Washington D.C. to lead it.

Co-founder of Luther’s Platform chapter Anna Phearman (‘19) met Mandelblatt while studying in Washington D.C. during the fall of 2017. Mandelblatt came to Luther during the spring of 2018 to speak about Platform and effective activism which influenced Phearman, Mareda Smith (‘19), and Stephanie Kletscher (‘19) to start their own chapter of Platform at Luther.

Ursula Damtse (‘22) | Chips
Jenny Hickey (‘19) engages in discussion in with the audience.

“We started holding meetings as a kind of unofficial student group last spring but it just became official this spring,” Smith said. “In our meetings we typically talk about issues that either Platform brought up in their monthly pack or that are really important to people at our meetings. We discuss how those issues impact our lives personally and how they impact the people around us. Then we look at what is happening in the political scenes relating to those issues and how can we advocate for change on that topic.”

The national organization Platform provides a monthly policy debate pack to students that guides discussions on certain issues.

Ursula Damtse (‘22) | Chips
Jennifer Mandelblatt leads the advocacy workshop.

At the advocacy workshop, Mandelblatt explained the steps of lobbying to students and then encouraged attendees to discuss and act out each step. During this exercise, three attendees were randomly selected to play the roles of senators while the rest of the attendees were divided into two groups. To practice lobbying, one group lobbied for Valentine’s Day to be an official holiday while the other lobbied for Halloween.

Peilla Ishimwe (‘21) said the workshop made her think about how she could apply lobbying skills to address some situations back in her home country of Burundi.

“It was really interesting information to know,” Ishimwe said. “I was actually thinking about how can I use this afterwards and thinking about where I come from in relation to the [United] States.”

Attendees said the workshop gave them more insight of how a career in the political landscape could look. Emma Hennek (‘22) attends Platform meetings because they heighten her interest in politics.

“I really enjoyed it,” Henneck said. “I have been thinking about going into law as a profession and I really enjoy seeing how policies get made and how I will interact on that end.”

Education and Project Coordinator Jenny Hickey (‘19) talks about how the organization seeks to address issues that matter to Luther students.

“Part of my job is to survey Luther students and see what topic is of interest to them and bring that forth in our meetings,” Hickey said. “At our first meeting we got some topics students were interested in and that’s what I am looking into for our next meeting.”

The student organization is looking into collaborating with PRIDE, Black Student Union, and Norse Against Sexual Assault.

Although it is a new organization, the executive board of Luther Platform collaborated with a few student groups to recognize International Women’s Day on March 8. To celebrate, the organization had a photo campaign where students wrote empowering quotes about women on whiteboards and posed for photos with those whiteboards.

Ursula Damtse (‘22) | Chips
Kari-Anne Jensen (‘22) acts as a senator during an excercise.

Luther Platform meets twice a month on Tuesdays. Students can find information about Platform’s events on their Facebook page and attend campus meetings to get involved.

“I think like on a macro level, our hope is that this can be a space to start to recognize how much politics affects [students] lives personally and the fact that their voices [are] really necessary,” Smith said. “[We’re] trying to demystify politics in the modern world, especially for students, because it can be a very intimidating scene but young people’s voices are really necessary so we want it to be a place for dialogue on Luther’s campus.”

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