Over the weekend, I had the honor and privilege of accompanying eight students from Wapakoneta’s City School System to the Ohio YMCA’s 65th Annual Youth in Government State Assembly.
Nearly 700 students from across Ohio were given the opportunity to be State Legislators for the weekend. They sat the chairs, debated in the chambers and held committees in the very rooms that Ohio’s real Legislature use. Needless to say it was a truly awesome experience.
One of the requirements to attend is that each Student Legislator must draft and present a bill. It follows the normal course of being heard in committee, if reported out favorably, it goes to the floor and if passed, on to the Youth Governor for his signature or veto. There were a lot of great bills, some of which died because they weren’t properly sold, but I watched what may have been the most moving speech ever given by a high school student on our first day in the House Chamber.
A young lady had written a bill that would strip all funding from any university that did not turn over a rape investigation to local law enforcement. It was a serious bill. She stepped to the microphone and delivered five minutes of eloquence that I’m not sure has ever been matched in that chamber. She told the story of how as a middle school student, she was molested by one of her teachers. She reported the incident to her principal and was told to stop making up stories. No investigation ever took place and she was molested every day thereafter. She told her story with conviction and with passion not as a way to garner sympathy, but as a tool to shine a light on a very serious problem facing young women today. She concluded by stating that her story wasn’t unique because 1 in 5 women on college campuses face a similar fate and that every time a victim comes forward it should be treated as legitimate. The bill passed unanimously.
I get that there is nuance in governing and that not everything is black and white but I think that everyone that aims to persuade others could learn a valuable lesson from this incredibly bright young lady. Everyone has a story to share and it’s through sharing that story that you connect with people and convince them of your point.