Dustin Steinhoff, News Editor
Local state representatives met with University of Missouri-St. Louis students to discuss a wide range of political topics such as how to get involved in public office, how to interpret the First Amendment, mental health, education and more during the Lunch with Legislators, an event in celebration of Constitution Day.
On Sep. 17, students were given the chance to meet with four local legislators from counties such as St. Louis and St. Charles. Lunch was offered to attendees and ran from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. in Century Room C of the Millennium Student Center. There was also an area set up for students to register to vote if they had not done so already.
After the attendees loaded their plates and took their seats at the various tables, they were given the chance to talk to the representatives and other students at the event. After some socializing, each legislator was given the chance to stand up and introduce themselves to the rest of the room, describe how they were introduced to politics and mention what political policies interest them most. Afterward, the legislators fielded questions that were asked by a member of the crowd. In the final 15 minutes, students were given their final opportunity to chat with the legislators one-on-one.
Among the legislators present at the event was Missouri State Representative Chrissy Sommer who represents District 106 in St. Charles. Sommer is an UMSL graduate and her son is currently attending UMSL as well. She decided to attend in order to get involved and to answer any political questions UMSL students might have.
Sommer, along with various other legislators, stressed the importance of young voters getting involved in politics, as students’ political stances are just as important as any other voter’s political stances.
“Like any other constituent or any other taxpayer, it is important from them to come out and get their voices heard. Share their opinions, share their ideas,” Sommer said.
A student in attendance, Chris Crouch, junior, business, agreed with the idea that young voters should be more involved in politics, especially with the lack of young registered voters.
“Younger people tend to have a bigger impact than they realize,” Crouch said. “They are also the ones that do not go out and vote as much.”
Because each legislator became interested and involved in politics in their own way, Lunch with Legislators also provided the opportunity for students to find out how they can get involved in politics in order to make a change.
“I came to learn more about politics and what I can do to help,” Crouch said. “I wanted to reach out and change some of the things I am passionate about.”
Students are encouraged to take parts in events such as the Lunch with Legislators because there are occasionally a number of obstacles to overcome when attempting to meet with a legislator in person.
“Here, it is great because we come to you so you can actually spend a little time with us versus you having to come up all the way to Jefferson City or come into our district to come and find us,” Sommer said.
She also believes that meeting with as many people as possible at events such as these helps her accomplish her job as a representative better.
“[Legislators] are just one person. The more information we have, the better we can serve people,” Sommer said.
Even if students missed out on the Lunch with Legislators event, they are still able to locate who their local legislators are through their respective county’s website and have their voice heard in local politics.