Youth in Government organization recognized in national conference

John Corum

The WKU Youth in Government student organization may be newly formed, but its accomplishments rival those of even the most mature organizations on campus. 

Last month, the club received the chapter-of-the-year award at the National College Youth in Government Assembly.

Held over the course of five days in Black Mountain, N.C., the assembly replicated the real-world U.S. Congress, Executive Branch and Supreme Court.

Louisville freshman Jody Dahmer, founder of the WKU Youth in Government organization, said the WKU students who participated took on different roles during the conference.

“You can be a lawyer arguing before the Supreme Court; you can be a senator or representative. The main point is that you make laws and debate your own ideas,” Dahmer said.

Faculty advisor Saundra Ardrey said these activities help to fulfill the role of college education in civic engagement.

“It lets students know some of the issues that will be facing them legislatively, and it lets them know how to be a part of the political process,” Ardrey said.

The bills drafted by the delegates at the conference are a part of the competition, but also serve a greater function. If a bill gets signed into law by conference participants, it is sent to the national YMCA office, and then to a real U.S. congressman.

“That’s not saying that it will get passed by the actual U.S. Congress, but it at least goes to committee, and that’s something not many high school or college kids are ever going to be able to do on their own,” Dahmer said.

Despite being founded last September, the group was met with overwhelming success at the conference. Dahmer said the victory was the product of its members’ character and work ethic.

“I would say that the main reason that we won was the fact that everyone that I took to the conference, all sixteen people from Western, they showed every standard of respect and responsibility,” he said. “And we prepared like crazy, to tell you the truth.”

This preparation occurred alongside the organization’s usual activities of community outreach and fundraising, Dahmer said.

“We really overworked ourselves, but it paid off in the end,” he said. 

The WKU Youth in Government organization plans to attend the 2015 conference. In the meantime, it remains optimistic about its trajectory.

“There’s nowhere to go but up. The faculty’s been fantastic. What we’re trying to do is make this organization as nationally renowned as the forensics team is now,” Dahmer said. “When we think of WKU, we think of the amazing photojournalism department, or we think of the amazing forensics team. But I want our college Youth in Government chapter to be nationally renowned.”