Fall 2016 Newsletter

Fraternity & Sorority Political Action Committee newsletter

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A s September begins, Congress prepares to return to Washington for a brief pre-election session. It no longer appears likely that Congress will address the overdue reauthorization of the Higher Education Act this fall, though there is the chance some related items will pass, including improvements to federal financial aid programs. We remain focused on a few core issues, including passage of the Collegiate Housing and Infrastructure Act (CHIA), campus safety improvements, preservation of our single-sex status, encouraging alum- ni involvement on campus, and enhancement of due process protections for chapters and individuals in campus disciplinary proceedings. For CHIA, Greek advocacy efforts on the Hill in April have recruited 95 sponsors in the House and 12 more in the Senate. These are very strong numbers for a tax bill these days. Our best chance of seeing CHIA pass this year comes if Congress puts together some sort of omnibus tax bill, and we continue to work with leaders in Congress to remind them of all CHIA can do to help with college affordability. On the single-sex status of fraternities and sororities, we remain ada- mantly opposed and outraged at Harvard's attempts to circumvent the intent of our right to remain single-sex organizations. Harvard has announced a policy to penalize students who exercise their rights to join fraternities and sororities, and there is fear that Harvard's place in the higher education community will lead other schools to follow their examples. We are also concerned that some schools are imposing new require- ments on alumni volunteers in our chapters that could impose new liabilities on those volunteers. We have been working with Congress to address these issues. Campus sexual assault remains an important issue of concern for our organizations and one we expect Congress to address in the near future. Greeks have been working with policymakers in Congress on several elements of these issues to make sure all of our students can have a safe experience at college. Greek leaders remain concerned that, in trying to address sexual assault issues on campus, schools are abridging the due process rights of students and our organizations. We have been work- ing to educate Congress on these issues so they can be addressed when Congress reauthorizes the higher education bill. We also expect a four- to six-week post-election lame-duck session that may be a very productive time for legislative activity. We expect that time will be used to finalize funding for the federal government for the fiscal year that begins October 1 of this year. We will be looking for opportunities for CHIA and campus safety issues of concern to our mem- bers to be attached to bigger legislative packages moving at that time. loBByiNg day a SteppiNg StoNe for youNg fraterNity memBer W hen the Fraternity and Sorority Political Action Committee con- firmed I had been chosen to lobby in spring 2016, I was overjoyed. Being the third student to represent Northwestern State University at the annual FSPAC lobbying trip was an honor and the University was diligent in assuring my proper preparation for the expedition. As the Lt. Commander of the NSU Sigma Nu Chapter, which is looking to build a fraternity house soon, I knew this oppor- tunity could give me an idea of what the process looked like. Lobbying pro- fessionally after college is my primary career goal and I realized this group had the potential to inform me on the roles lobbyists play in the congressional world. Once in D.C., I was briefed on the Collegiate Housing and Infrastructure Act and ways to present the bill to mem- bers of Congress. After watching and interacting in a few mock meetings, I felt ready to lobby for CHIA with con- gressional members and their staff. I was put on a team with Sigma Nu Regent Joe Francis, Gamma Phi Beta Vice President Sandy Burba, and Gamma Phi Beta collegiate representative Alex Byron. We were sent to Capitol Hill to gain the support of more co-sponsors to the CHIA bill. Admittedly in the beginning, it was difficult to convey the seeking of co-sponsorship while maintaining a genuine connection with the staffers and congressional members. Fortunately, I soon found a combination that worked and began to see the inner workings of the lobbying profession. In addition to the lobbying trip, I was chosen to deliver one of two col- legiate speeches during the dinner following the Capitol Hill visit. My speech focused on taking the learned lobbying skills and knowledge back to our universities and colleges to enhance the quality of members we bring into our organizations. Lobbying for the FSPAC was one of the best experiences of my life, and it was an honor to be appointed as one of two members of the Student Board of Directors. During my term, I will seek to assure the continued conversation of CHIA across the country, while also searching for top student representatives who will aid in moving CHIA through Congress. I look forward to the upcoming year and have high hopes for the continued growth of support for the bill. Interfraternally, Otha Curtis Nelson III, ΣΝ Legislative Focus Remains on Core Issues Preservation of Our Single-Sex Status at the Forefront A Β Γ Δ Ε Ζ Η Θ Ι Κ Λ Μ Ν Ξ Ο Π Ρ ΣΤ ΥΦ C Ψ W the Fraternity and Sorority Preserving the Greek experience for 2

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