SCU Students Sparkle at State Capitol

 

Seven Southwestern Christian University students spent five days of last week at the Oklahoma State Capitol, where they participated at the first session of the forty-seventh Oklahoma Intercollegiate Legislature (O.I.L.).

O.I.L. is a student-run mock government that replicates all three branches of the state government of Oklahoma. Founded under the administration of former Governor George Nigh, a recent guest speaker at SCU’s Business Leaders’ Network dinner, O.I.L. provides students from institutions of higher learning across the state an opportunity to write, debate, and pass legislation about the issues they believe are important.

“O.I.L. allows our students to express themselves in a very unique environment,” said Kyle Mickleburgh, SCU’s Delegation Chair. “The majesty and grandeur of the Capitol, coupled with the competitive nature of the delegates, makes for an entertaining and exhausting session.”

SCU students Kyle Mickleburgh, Holly Bennett, Hillary Bennett, and Elisabeth Willis all tried their hand at writing legislation. This was the third time that an SCU delegation had attended an O.I.L. session, but it was the first time that they had submitted any bills. Two of the four bills submitted were even signed by the Governor, Ceciley Thomason, after passing through both chambers, the House and the Senate.
Senate Bill SCU-002, written by Kyle Mickleburgh, mandates that all retailers in the state of Oklahoma include sales tax in the individual price of a good or service.

“It is just common-sense legislation,” Mickleburgh claimed, upon hearing the news that it had passed the Senate by 22 votes to two. “The intent is to bring Oklahoma in line with the rest of the world and make life easier for the consumer.”

House bill SCU-502, co-authored by Holly Bennett and Kyle Mickleburgh, requires all fast food restaurants in Oklahoma to provide recycling receptacles for their customers. The bill originally squeaked through the house, passing by 31 votes to 30. It was then amended six times by the Senate in what was arguably the best example of teamwork and cohesion ever seen at O.I.L. It passed the Senate unanimously, before heading back to the house for them to vote on the amended version. It passed by a majority of 28 and was signed by Governor Thomason.

After hearing the news, Holly Bennett claimed that there were a few anxious moments. “When the original House vote occurred, my first instinct was that the bill had failed; but miraculously, it passed by one vote. After that, everything became easier. The Senate made some helpful amendments to our bill.”
When asked about how she felt about her experience during the week, Elisabeth Willis said: “O.I.L. is one of the most eagerly anticipated events of the semester. As a person who takes an active interest in politics, I can’t think of many places I would rather spend my time.”

The SCU members of the House of Representatives, including both Bennetts and Andrew Hardwick, received a discretionary point from the Speaker of the House, Mitchell Bryant, who praised them for their excellent participation and knowledge.

“Being a smaller delegation in the House isn’t easy, but these students handled themselves well and participated astutely,” Bryant said during the closing session.

Reflecting on a great session, Kendra McClendon, a member of the Senate, said: “I had a great session and learned so much, but I am incredibly excited for Kyle and Holly, because their bills will get to be viewed by members of the actual legislature and have a chance of becoming state law.”

Alyssa Smith, another delegate, said: “O.I.L. is incredibly competitive. It was enjoyable to meet a diverse range of people who had very different ideologies and beliefs.”

The next session of the Oklahoma Intercollegiate Legislature will take place in November. If you are interested in being a part of the SCU delegation, contact sga@swcu.edu.

Southwestern Christian University is a Christ-centered liberal arts institution equipping students for a life of learning, leadership, and service; integrating faith, learning, and living; and empowering graduates to excel and to positively impact their world for Jesus Christ. Please support our mission at give.swcu.edu.