A group of 13 students from the Princeton Advocates for Justice traveled to Washington, D.C. on April 21 to meet with members of Congress from both sides of the aisle.
The human rights advocacy group met with congressional staffers to discuss various topics dominating American policy debates. Students met with 13 different congressional offices and had productive conversations about education, climate change, immigration, and reproductive rights, according to PAJ.
PAJ wished to transfer the actions they were generating on campus beyond the University bubble, PAJ member Diego Negron-Reichard ’18 said.
“PAJ has been really good at channeling the current atmosphere on campus into tangible actions.” Negron-Reichard explained. “Most recently, we led a group to Congress to give students the opportunity to interact, learn, and share from different Congressional representatives. The idea was to teach people that there are several avenues to engage in the current political atmosphere, and we did just that.”
The group members met with the staff of Mario Diaz-Balart, Illeana Ros Lehtinen, Randy Hultgren, Mark Amodei, Virginia Foxx, Erik Paulsen, Terri Sewell, Rodney Frelinghuysen, and Charlie Dent. The group also met with the offices of four alumni, including Derek Kilmer '96, Jared Polis '96, Ken Buck '81, and Leonard Lance '82.
All members of the trip returned from the trip more informed and enthusiastic about the world of politics.
“PAJ organized a group of students to visit their members of congress to learn about the legislative process and to discuss issues that they are passionate about,” Camila Novo-Viano ‘18 said. “All of the students came away with a better understanding of the legislative process and empowered to participate in the politics.”
Reichard observed that participants of the D.C. trip were inspired to get more involved in politics, recalling a specific salient moment.
“A student who hadn't been involved in politics prior to the trip turned to one of our leaders, Nicholas [Wu '18], and said that she wanted to run for Congress someday,” Reichard said. “And that's really what PAJ is about, finding ways to channel all of the post-election enthusiasm into something productive, something more than just a pithy Facebook post.”
He emphasized PAJ’s mission is to use burgeoning interest in politics amongst the campus community and develop tangible change.
Both Reichard and Novo-Viano expressed future desires to repeat the D.C. trip in later years.
“It is definitely something that is very easy to organize and that we would love to do again most likely in the fall.” Novo-Viano said.
“Hopefully we will expand the type of students we bring.” Negron-Reichard added.
PAJ is an intersectional student coalition advocating for the protection and advancement of basic human rights. The educational trip was funded through the American Whig-Cliosophic Society and took place last weekend, primarily on April 21.