Ariel Repass, Eta Chi, shares her experience from Capital Hill

Ariel Repass, Eta Chi at the University of Missouri

Back in January my Chapter President, Lidia Moore, was at the Presidents Academy and got to meet with our National President Natalie Averette. While they were chatting, Natalie mentioned to Lidia that she needed a Sigma from Mizzou to lobby Congress in April. Lidia then posted to the Eta Chi chapter wall that she was looking for political science majors and all political enthusiasts. Now I am very much not a political science major, as I am earning a BS in biology and the closest I come to policy is weighing in on the healthcare debate. I am however a HUGE political enthusiast. Almost every night at 6pm I can be seen watching or streaming the Chris Matthews show on MSNBC and I’ve been a subscriber to the Washington Post since my sophomore year in high school. So, I liked the post and continued my winter break Netflix marathon.

Two days later, Lidia called me and asked if I would be willing to lobby Congress as a representative of Tri Sigma. I was ecstatic. I then received an email from the Fraternal Government Relation Coalition, or FGRC, with more details about the lobbying trip. For the trip, I would spend my spring semester completing a survey about Greek life at Mizzou and trying to secure letters of support from the MU chancellor and UM system president. I also met with my lobbying partner, a Sigma Tau Gamma, to help prepare for the trip. Before I knew it April had arrived and I was receiving my final training notes and heading to Washington.

Austyn Boothe, Epsilon Kappa, and Ariel Repass, Eta Chi, spent time in Washington meeting with representatives on the Collegiate Housing and Infrastructure Act.

I flew to Chicago where I met Austyn Boothe, a Sigma from Wisconsin Oshkosh, and together we flew to Washington D.C. When we arrived at our hotel, we were greeted by Natalie Averette, National President, and Laura Sweet, National Panhellenic Delegate. The night before training started we met with the alumnae chapter from Northern Virginia and had a wonderful dinner. It was my first experience meeting with so many women that have been Tri Sigmas for years. I truly felt and saw the bonds of sisterhood that we create lived out in the alumnae chapter. The next day Austyn and I had an eight-hour training day on the Collegiate Housing and Infrastructure Act or CHIA. The bill would allow all non-profit entities to be treated the same under the tax code. Currently alum that donate to the house corporation to help improve housing or build new housing do not get a complete tax deduction. Conversely, alum that donate to their alma maters for housing purposes can have a complete tax deduction. We also lobbied for some other higher education issues as well.

Ariel and Austyn pictured with National President Natalie Averette.

The lobby day came and we split up with our teams to meet with various members of Congress. Austyn and Laura made a team and Natalie and myself made up the other team. We met with many representatives from Senator Claire McCaskill and Senator Roy Blunt to most of the Missouri House representatives. One of the highlights came in a meeting with Representative Billy Long from Missouri when he mentioned that his mother is a Tri Sigma woman and raised him based on our values of wisdom, faith, power, hope, and love. We then ended the lobbying day with a dinner with all the participants and members of congress that are sorority and fraternity women and men. There were several speeches given including one from the representative of my district in Kansas, Kevin Yoder.

It was an experience like no other. I am so grateful to be a Tri Sigma and for all of the wonderful experiences that being a member has given me. I am thankful for getting to meet Austyn, Laura, and Natalie and am proud to call them sisters.