Southern’s Delegation Attends the 47th Annual Tennessee Intercollegiate State Legislature
Instead of packing their bags to go home for Thanksgiving Break, a group of 13 Southern Adventist University students headed to Nashville, Tennessee, to attend the general assembly of the 47th Tennessee Intercollegiate State Legislature (TISL) in the state capitol building. Founded in 1966, TISL is a way for students to exchange ideas, express opinions, and learn how the government works.
This year, the four-day event welcomed more than 450 delegates from 42 colleges all across the state. Students from a variety of disciplines came with one goal in mind—to create and argue for a bill that could become tangible law in the state of Tennessee.
Students actively participate in four programs at the TISL general assembly—the Senate and House, Appellate Moot Court Collegiate Challenge (AMC3), lobbying, and media. The Senate and House allows for the student delegates to present several bills, of which only 10 are chosen to be considered for state law. AMC3 allows student “attorneys” to debate the law before a panel of student “judges,” while “lobbyists” attempt to persuade “legislators” to support, oppose, or amend the legislation. Independent student journalists cover the entire event through print and social media.
Southern students did not begin attending the conclave until 2012, when TISL amended its Constitution to allow teams to be exempt from activities held on Sabbath. Mark Hyder, dean of the School of Business at Southern, explained the impact TISL has on Southern students.
“Participating in TISL is one of the best experiential learning opportunities for students interested in practicing law,” Hyder said. “This year’s religious liberty case generated a lot of thought and discussion among our moot court team, which stimulated a deeper learning of the material than could have been achieved through traditional learning methods.”
The current TISL club president at Southern, Christina Angel, senior history major, values the impact TISL has made in her college career and professional future. Meeting prominent leaders in politics, such as Secretary of State Tre Hargett and the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, has been the highlight of Angel’s involvement in the program.
“Having a network of these professional people will be a huge advantage as I begin my professional career,” Angel said. “Employers recognize TISL and see you as someone who has prior experience and understanding.”
Although several bills from Southern’s delegation have passed through the TISL House and Senate, none have gone on to become state law. Nevertheless, through the help of Southern’s TISL program and Tennessee state court officials and judges, students can have an instructive and real experience as they prepare for their future careers.