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Sixteen Students Headed To Tennessee Intercollegiate State Legislature Competition

Publication Date: 11/14/2012

For the second consecutive year, Rhodes students will travel to Nashville to compete in the Tennessee Intercollegiate State Legislature (TISL), where hundreds of college students from institutions around the state convene to participate in a mock meeting of the legislature. At this year’s competition, Nov. 15-18, the Rhodes team, made up of 16 students, will participate on four subgroups: Lobbying, Legislative, Judicial and Media.

“The experience of actually being in the state capitol is incredible,” says Rhodes TISL President Betsy Swann ’14. “If you are on the legislative team, for example, you’re in the actual senate chamber, pushing the buttons to vote, just like any Tennessee senator would do. Or if you’re on the judicial side, you’re learning how to write briefs and develop arguments for the appellate court. It really is hands-on learning, and it can be a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”

Swann, who had previously participated in Tennessee YMCA Youth and Government, a similar program at the high school level, approached the Rhodes political science department about putting together a TISL delegation during the spring of her freshman year. After securing sponsorship from the department and Political Science Professor Stephen Wirls, she began recruiting members for the Rhodes team.

Last year, the team was successful in all four areas of TISL, taking home the award for Best New Delegation. Numerous delegates have been nominated for distinguished positions this year, including Jess Wilder ’15, who will serve on the TISL election commission. Last year, Wilder, a member of the legislative group, had two of his bills marked as “priority legislation,” meaning that they were delivered to the actual Tennessee Legislature for review at the conclusion of the event.

In addition, Swann has been nominated to be a Lobbying CEO, meaning she will work on the statewide level of the lobbying side of the legislature. To prepare for the event, Swann has been working with a real lobbyist in Nashville, preparing to lobby for Tennessee Teachers at TISL She says she hopes to build on the momentum the team developed last year.

“The sizes of the delegations are based on the size of their college or university. Based on Rhodes’ size, the first year we were only expected to have four delegates, and we took 11,” says Swann. “We have expanded greatly just in the past year alone. We were really successful in our first year, and this year we want to move our way up.”

Caroline Ponseti ’15 is in charge of the Media group. She and two other team members will report on the events of the conference. She says that even though she is not interested in pursuing law school after Rhodes, she enjoys TISL because of the way it encompasses so many different aspects of state government.

“We sit in on the action, and using social media like blogs, Facebook and Twitter, we report on what we’re observing,” says Ponseti. “We also put out a newsletter twice a day.”

All four subgroups have been preparing since September for the event. Swann says that while it would be nice to take home another big award, she already has been impressed with all of the gains the team has made.

“We have a strong delegation and we’ve prepared well, and so I think we have a shot at winning Best Delegation this year,” says Swann. “Regardless of what awards we win, I think it is more important that students feel rewarded from all of their hard effort.”


In related news, Brendan Tyler ’15 has been appointed to the Tennessee Intercollegiate Supreme Court for 2013 following a merit-based application process. The five-member court settles legal and constitutional issues within TISL and presides over the Appellate Moot Court Collegiate Challenge.

(information compiled by Rhodes Student Associate Lucy Kellison ’13)

Tags: Campus Life, Honors, Students


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Matthew Meinel November 21, 2012

Congratulations to Rhodes for winning Best Delegation!

Sandi George Tracy November 14, 2012

Congrats Betsy and the entire delegation!