MC sends delegation to TISL

MC sends delegation to TISL

Dec. 14, 2018

For the fourth time in recent years, Maryville College sent a delegation of students to participate in the Tennessee Intercollegiate State Legislature (TISL). And for the third consecutive year, a MC student returned to campus with honors.

Since 1966, college students across Tennessee have convened at the state capitol for TISL to “exchange ideas, express their opinions and learn how government works,” according to the organization’s website.

Its four programs are patterned after the essential elements of public service: legislative, AMC3 (the Appellate Moot Court Collegiate Challenge), lobbying and media.

“It’s a great experience in the nuts and bolts of how law and politics work,” said MC Associate Professor of History Dr. Aaron Astor, who advises and accompanies the College’s delegation to Nashville. “You’re literally in the chamber where this stuff happens, and I think it gives the students an appreciation for the process.”

Held Nov. 15-18, TISL’s 49th General Assembly involved more than 500 students from Tennessee colleges and universities. Eight Maryville College students participated: six in the AMC3 program, one in the legislature and one in lobbying.

Preparation begins early

Astor said the students were dedicated to their roles in TISL.

“There’s a lot of preparation that has to go into this before they get to Nashville,” he explained.

The legal team, comprised of Ciara Humphrey ’20, Carson Clark ’20, Ha Young Son ’20, Lana Linebarger ’19 and Madison Hemphill ’22 spent time prepping for TISL by reviewing an appellate case and preparing arguments for both sides, not yet knowing their assignment.

While the team of students competed as an AMC3 legal team, Jacob Williams ’19, an economics major, served as one of the five Supreme Court Justices to represent the state. This marked Williams’ third year at TISL and his first year on the court. As a member of the court, he spent a year working with other members to construct a relevant legal case for the students.

“We [Supreme Court Justices] oversee the AMC3 competition and judge each individual round of the tournament while also adhering to the constitution of the TISL and the state of Tennessee,” Williams said. “This process involves the year-long construction of a legal case based on arguable issues found within federal and state legislation.”

Williams also helped with outreach to colleges across the state. This year the AMC3 had a record number of 46 colleges involved.

Aside from lobbying or AMP3, students also can write and vote on bills as a member of the State Senate. Dawson Hope ’21 participated as a senator in this year’s General Assembly. Hope wrote a bill that provided regulations for the sale of marked-down food items in grocery stores that could help to alleviate hunger in Tennessee communities. TISL Bill 174, “Ending Hunger Through Grocery Stores Act,” passed in the Senate but failed in the House.

The bills introduced during TISL’s General Assembly can sometimes go on to become state law. As Maryville College students, Josh Anderson ’18 and Molly Ridgeway Anderson ’18 worked to make this happen in 2016 and 2017. The two wrote and then successfully lobbied for bills that allowed American Sign Language (ASL) to satisfy foreign language requirements in Tennessee schools and required the state’s institutions of higher education to accept ASL as a foreign language credit for the purposes of admission to their undergraduate degree programs.

Waddell brings home honor

Megan Waddell ’20, was recognized as the Best Lobbying CEO in this year’s General Assembly. Her Disability and Diversity firm lobbied for bills “uplifting the standard of living for those with disabilities and those of minority backgrounds.”

As CEO, Waddell, an international studies major, spent months preparing for TISL, which helped her lobbying firm stand out.

“I did read through every bill submitted to TISL and chose what my firm would support and oppose,” Waddell said. “I also wrote arguments for why or why not we support said bill.”

With her award, Waddell follows in the footsteps of Molly Ridgeway Anderson ’18, who was recognized Best Lobbying CEO in 2017.

‘True, first-hand experience’

Whether they are interested in policy work, law or the legislative process, students can benefit from participation in TISL, Williams said.

“It gives you true, first-hand experience into what these processes would look like at the state level, and I am committed to the idea that there is no better way of gaining experience in this field, save a legislative internship,” he added.

Not only do the participants gain valuable political and legal experience, they also create valuable connections, Astor pointed out.

“They’re meeting other students who are also very interested in law and politics, and it’s a great way for them to network and discuss similar interests,” he said, adding that the students also had an opportunity to meet with Maryville College alumnus and Tennessee Court of Appeals Judge Neal McBrayer ’86.

Students who have participated in TISL said it’s an honor to represent Maryville College on a state-wide level. Waddell is a new transfer to MC and said she wanted to put her best foot forward for her new school.

“I was excited to represent my new college at TISL and help show how strong of a group MC can put together,” she said.

Students interested in attending TISL next year can reach out to Humphrey, next year’s Head Delegate for Maryville College, or speak to Astor.

“If you have an interest in making a difference, representing a group with your voice, or learning more about political process, then I highly encourage you to apply and get involved,” Williams said.

Maryville College is a nationally-ranked institution of higher learning and one of America’s oldest colleges. For more than 200 years, we’ve educated students to be giving citizens and gifted leaders, to study everything, so that they are prepared for anything — to address any problem, engage with any audience and launch successful careers right away. Located in Maryville, Tennessee, between the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the city of Knoxville, Maryville College offers nearly 1,200  students from around the world both the beauty of a rural setting and the advantages of an urban center, as well as more than 60 majors, seven pre-professional programs and career preparation from their first day on campus to their last. Today, our 10,000 alumni are living life strong of mind and brave of heart and are prepared, in the words of our Presbyterian founder, to “do good on the largest possible scale.”