Converse South Carolina Student Legislature Delegation Emerges into Powerful Force
Converse women continue to build upon their reputation as experts of political negotiation and debate. The incredible success achieved at the national level by the Model League and Model NATO teams for the past decade are well documented. But in recent years, the Converse delegation to the South Carolina Student Legislature (SCSL) has emerged as a powerful force at the state level.
Delegates representing 14 of the state’s most recognizable colleges, universities and technical schools participate in SCSL. During session, bills are brought up for discussion by House and Senate members on the floor of the SC Congress and then voted upon. The bills are then presented to the actual House and Senate members.
Heading into the Nov. 1-4 Fall 2006 Session, the Converse delegation was riding a six-year streak of Best Small Delegation honors. Even though that streak came to an end, the delegation still made their presence known among the more than 175 participants.
• Legislation authored by true freshmen Taylor Atkinson and Lexi Vitali was passed unanimously in the House and approved by the Senate
• Jodi Hylton ’08 and Chelsea Boggs ’10 won Best Oral Arguments in a case before the Supreme Court of Justice
• Deidre Tindal ’07 served as an associate judge on the Supreme Court
• Sarah Walters ’08 planned the entire Session as part of her responsibilities as a member of the Governor’s Cabinet, served as a representative to the Constitutional Committee, and was elected to serve as an alternate justice in 2007 chief of staff to the 2007 governor
• Boggs was elected to serve as an associate justice in 2007
“It is very hard for a college to win Best Small Delegation six years in a row,” said Ed Sutton, a Citadel student who served as governor of SCSL last year. “I have been involved with SCSL for three years now and Converse is the only college to win a best delegation award every year I’ve been involved. Converse has always been extremely professional in their debates and very knowledgeable about politics, so it’s not at all hard to see why they have continually won this award.”
Freshmen played a pivotal role in the success of this year’s delegation which was a calculated strategy according to Valerie Dowling ’07, chair of the Converse delegation. “We wanted the freshmen members to be in the middle of the action from day one,” she said. “Converse women are usually very successful in being elected to key leadership positions at the SCSL state level, so being active from the very beginning was a good way for our freshmen to get beyond any nervous feelings they may have experienced.”
Atkinson and Vitali based their bill upon President Bush’s America’s Respect for Fallen Heroes Act, which illegalizes demonstrations at National Cemeteries for a certain amount of time and distance. “After (President Bush) passed the act, many states started adopting their own individual laws based upon the act. South Carolina was one of these states, but changed the funerals from just military to civilian and added to the distance that demonstrators have to stay back from the funeral service,” said Taylor. “(SC) Governor Mark Sanford vetoed the bill because he felt it was not specifically defined enough; plus he also was not sure about the distance and thought it would pote