A Day for All People
By: Hannah Austin
Posted: February 14, 2013
On Tuesday, January 23, thirty-six students from James Madison University traveled to Richmond to participate in the Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy’s annual “Day for All People.” The students, participants of Professor Laura Hunt Trull’s Social Policy class, were accompanied by a group from Eastern Mennonite University, and joined other social justice professionals and students from around Virginia for a day of speeches, policy briefings, and the opportunity to speak with local legislators. Issues on the Virginia Interfaith docket for discussion this year included the eradication of Uranium mining in Virginia, immigration rights, and Medicaid expansion; however, some JMU students took the opportunity to advocate for issues important to them.
Junior Alana Simpson was one student who brought her own agenda for discussion: “My biggest concerns that I wanted to address were gun control and school safety, with a particular emphasis on the implementation of policies to require school resource officers at all levels of education in the state of Virginia. I had a great conversation with my district senator Creigh Deed’s aid, Tracey, about the impact that the recent Sandy Hook tragedy had on his positions towards various issues. She really understood the magnitude of what we, as social workers, do to help our clients function to the best of their ability. After this, I felt empowered - it was really the first time that I could truly say that I felt like a social worker. Policy and social work are one in the same. Policies affect what we do, and if they do not work for us, we need to stand up as a profession and advocate for change.”
Trull added, “Our government is accessible to us as individuals and we have the knowledge and ability to change policies in a way that brings social justice. As demonstrated by the name a “Day for All People,” it’s not enough to look at issues facing individuals and families, but for social work to impact our greater communities, countries, and planet.”
JMU Social Work students travel to this event each spring while General Assembly is in session, but they also fulfill their commitment to advocacy each fall by attending lobby days in Washington D.C. The Virginia Interfaith Center welcomes students, professionals, and community members of all faiths to join them in a variety of advocacy opportunities.