Loyola has a history of being the spark that ignites the future flame of successful men in politics, but one current Loyola student has already immersed himself in the political sphere of Washington D.C., where he spent his summer working on Capitol Hill.
In early June, one week before school dismissed for summer break, senior Robert Lowe boarded a flight bound for D.C. He had been chosen from a rigorous application process to participate in a selective career program in which there are fewer than 100 available spots. He worked for the office of the Senate in a paid position as a page over the summer break until the Senate left for its Fourth of July recess.
A typical day for Lowe consisted of several activities: “I would get up, put on my uniform [suit and tie], and walk to one of the four Senate office buildings, where I would pass through security and ride the private underground train that connects different buildings with the Capitol. When I got to work [around 8:30 a.m.], the other pages and I would begin getting the Senate ready to conduct morning business. This involved setting up each senator’s desk with the bills to be debated, the record of the previous day’s business, and a calendar for the day; running these documents to offices all over the Capitol; and going to the Senate Sergeant at Arms’ office to get the presiding officer’s ivory gavels.’’
Lowe continued, saying, “In the morning the President pro tempore of the Senate [most senior member of the majority party, currently Orrin Hatch R-UT]brings the Senate to order with the Pledge of Allegiance and a prayer by the Senate Chaplain. During this [ceremony], pages stand outside each door of the chamber to ensure no one enters. While the Senate is in session, pages sit on either side of the rostrum [raised area where the presider is].”
Throughout the day, Lowe was required to perform various duties, including tracking down senators who had not yet voted, manning doors during floor votes, ensuring every senator had a glass of water, transferring messages between Senators, and photocopying notes from senators for use by the Recorder of Date.
Being a senate page is crucial to the efficiency and success of the Senate because the office is not computerized in any way, so all pieces of information must be hand-written or recorded without using modern technology. “Everything is still done on paper. Every time a senator proposes an amendment, he physically hands his proposed change to a page, who then needs to make 24 copies and run them all over the Capitol,” Lowe said.
When Lowe was given free time in the evenings, he socialized with the other pages in the communal page residence and learned about their backgrounds. “Pages were from all over the country. My roommates were from Alabama, New Mexico, and West Virginia. It was great making friends with kids from all over the country who share an interest in politics,” Lowe said.
Lowe encouraged other Cubs to reach out to politicians for work. “Find a candidate or politician who shares your views and ask if you can work for them. Show them that you are fired up to work for them, and they will want you – regardless of how young or inexperienced you are,” he said.
He also said that Loyola prepared him for this experience. “My classes at Loyola, particularly those in which teachers encouraged inquiry and debate, have taught me always to consider opposing points of view. While rarely changing my opinion, this exercise deepened my understanding of my own position, revealed nuances in issues that might otherwise appear to be black and white, and helped me discover common ground with those I disagree with.”