On Sunday, March 27 and Monday, March 28, eight Loyola students, along with Jesse Rodriguez, the Director of the Center of Service and Justice, traveled to Sacramento, California to participate in the Jesuits West Advocacy Summit. The summit, organized by Jesuits West for California Jesuit high school students, provided an opportunity to advocate for three bills currently being debated in the California State Assembly and Senate.
On Sunday morning, participating Loyola students arrived on campus, and drove north to Sacramento in a school van. Arriving in the late afternoon, they stayed in the school gymnasium of Sacramento’s Jesuit High School, also a Jesuit, all-boys college preparatory school. For the rest of that Sunday, participants engaged in a number of workshops to ready them for legislative advocacy, while also attending a mass preceded by the Bishop of the Diocese of Sacramento.
The following day, participants dressed in suits and ties and went to the state capital building, holding cardboard political signs. Although that day’s weather was cold and rainy, participants were not deterred, using their cardboard signs as makeshift umbrellas.
The first bill that summit participants advocated for was Assembly Bill 1487, a bill that would both give legal aid to tenants who have faced eviction from their landlords and allocate 150 million dollars to a fund targeting homelessness. While the state legislator has already passed the bill, it has not been signed into law by California Governor Gavin Newsom yet. Newsom said he needs allocation in the state budget to fund the measure before signing the bill, so Loyola students at the summit were there to encourage lawmakers to allocate proper funding for the bill.
Additionally, students advocated for Assembly Bill 552, which would allocate additional funding to schools. This funding would enable schools to acquire additional mental health resources for students, like extra school counselors. The bill passed through the State Assembly with a 76-0 vote in January, but awaits passage in the State Senate.
Participant Anthony Cruz ‘23 remarked on the importance of funding for mental health resources, explaining that “we’ve seen a mental health decline in students over the years, with the pandemic accelerating that trend, so I think it’s important to give California students more mental health resources.”
Lastly, attendees advocated for Assembly Bill 2644. Upon the arrest of someone 25 years of age or younger, the bill would prohibit law enforcement from “employing threats, physical harm, deception, or psychologically manipulative interrogation tactics, as specified, during an interrogation.”
In total, Jesuits West Advocacy Day was a special opportunity for a select number of Loyola students to experience legislative advocacy, through a compassionate, Jesuit perspective, up-close, while also witnessing the inner workings of California state politics and lawmaking.