By Alyssa Sperrazza, News Editor

Several OBU students are not waiting to graduate before making a difference. Leaving for the Oklahoma State Capitol on Wednesday, April 26, several OBU students will be participating in the second session of the 49th Legislature of the Oklahoma Intercollegiate Legislature (OIL).

Leading the way is sophomore Emily Shaw, a returning alum of OIL.

“I am the OBU’s Delegation Chair for OIL,” Shaw said. “I recruit and get our delegation ready for the upcoming session, which will be held in Tulsa, April 26-30.”

OIL gathers students from all different universities and colleges from across the state of Oklahoma, to meet and compete in different areas of politics, law and journalism.  With a mock legislature, mock Supreme Court and mock press core, OIL gives students the opportunity to get experience working in careers many are pursing after graduation.

“I love OIL for it’s hands-on experience in the world of politics,” Shaw said. “OIL is a mock legislature that allows college students from all over the state to write and discuss legislation; individuals present their own bills on the House or Senate floor and then we debate and vote. Most people don’t really understand the legislative process, so becoming a part of that process can literally be, for some people, life changing.”

Returning for his second session, junior Nick Dingus quickly caught the legislative bug.

“I am the Policy Chief for our (the OBU) Delegation,” Dingus said. “That means I am responsible for all of the legislation written by our delegates; making sure that all of our bills are written to a certain standard. I also make sure that the bills do not violate not only any federal laws but also the Oklahoma state constitution.”

Along with specific OBU roles, students have specific roles they fulfill while at OIL.

“I am also a representative of the House of Representatives where I write, debate and vote on legislation at our semester sessions,” Dingus said. “In addition to being a member of the House of Representatives, I am also the House’s Sergeant at Arms. This means that I am responsible for making sire only authorized people are allowed into the House Chambers when chambers are sealed.”

Giving students hands on experience is a unique opportunity that OBU students are taking advantage of.  OIL gives hands on learning outside of the classroom.

“I love having the opportunity to join together with other people from my generation to discuss and debate the problems that our state faces on a daily basis,” Dingus said.

“Not only are issues discussed, but real world solutions are debated. These people are special; they are the next generation of leaders for not only our state, but also for our country. The opportunity that we have to be in this type of environment while we are still in college is unique. OIL is the oldest and largest organization of its type in the country.”

Legislation that passes the OIL House of Representatives, OIL Senate and that is then signed by the OIL Governor is then sent on to the actual Oklahoma Legislature.  This is allowing students’ ideas to be heard in the state government, giving young adults a voice they wouldn’t consider having otherwise.  It also is teaching students about prevalent and important topics that are often overlooked in the business of school.

“I have only lived in Oklahoma for about three years now, but after just one session at OIL I know more about the challenges that Oklahoma faces and how people want to fix them than I do about my home state of Ohio,” Dingus said.

Connecting with other students who care about those issues is infectious and also gives students an opportunity to meet like-minded people who will be working side by side with them after graduation.

“Networking is one of the central features of OIL, and approximately 60 percent of participants go on to be elected officials (i.e. state congressmen or state governor),” Shaw said.

“That is a significant number from all over the state, so being able to have those connections in the future will give anyone a head start, regardless of their career.”

Along with networking and teaching students the process of the government and legal systems, OIL teaches students that more will be achieved working together than working along.

“It seems to me that in today’s culture, people have seemingly got it in their heads that people with different views and ideas are the ‘enemy,’” Dingus said.

“This leads to conversations being missed, and conversations are how change happens. Through OIL, I have meteor people with ideas that conflict with mine than I ever would have otherwise. Just because someone doesn’t agree with you doesn’t mean that they are a bad person, it just means that you have something to talk about now.”