How AS Vice President of External Affairs Ethan Quaranta helped Lobby Corps remerge after years of inactivity.
Ethan Quaranta jokingly smiled when telling fellow Associated Students (AS) member Juan Guzman to keep up his Kahoot winning streak at the Lobby Corps trivia night last Tuesday. California State University, Monterey Bay (CSUMB) students joined the groups first trivia night of the semester to meet with their peers for a fun game, all while learning more about civic engagement.
According to their website, Lobby Corps “serves as a point of reference for legislative affairs as well as civic engagement.” Quaranta is the AS vice president of external affairs as well as the chair of Lobby Corps and runs their Friday meetings.
The organization was live at CSUMB in the past, but then became inactive and has stayed that way for the past three years. Noticing AS was mostly university affairs-based, Quaranta decided to revamp the group to create space for student voices within the university as a steady way to influence and support civic engagement.
Quaranta has a deep history within AS, working as a committee intern his first year, then becoming a sustainability senator in his second and now acting as VP and chair in his third. He sees AS as a second family which challenges him with “emotionally-taxing” work that help prepare for life outside of college.
He said he may run for office after graduation and AS and Lobby Corps are helping him “get his feet wet.” With great interest in leadership, he makes a good fit for running Lobby Corps, which empowers students to be civically engaged during their time at CSUMB.
“There hasn’t been a really strong external affairs component in AS (for some time),” said Quaranta. “I want to direct AS to be more well-rounded in our advocacy because historically we are very university-affairs focused … that’s great, but there’s also issues with that.”
The issues lie with using AS’s university-affairs background for funding and then elevating those inner workings to address the policies students are seeking. Then, students can use their voice to create the changes they want to see in motion. In other words, establishment is needed for advocacy to come into play.
During Tuesday’s trivia night, players were asked questions about existing laws and legal terms instead of typical, pop-culture questions. Some topics included the colors of political parties, full names of government organization abbreviations and rules for public involvement within California legislature. Winner of the Lobby Corps trivia night Phillip Nakashian was glad to have participated in the event.
“It’s imperative for everyone to, at the very least, understand the political process, whether or not they’re engaged in it, because apathy opens the door for opportunists to take advantage of people and the system,” he said.
Nakashian was excited he won the trivia game, which granted him the board game “Monopoly: House Divided,” but said the way he won was “unconventional.”Nakashian technically came in third place, but won by default as the first and second place winners were members of AS and therefore were not allowed to take home the prize.
He guiltily compared his win to the government: “it kind of feels like I lost the popular vote, but won the presidency from a loophole, like the electoral college.”
Nonetheless, Nakashian appreciated trivia night and the presence of Lobby Corps alike. He believes partaking in civic engagement leads to more individual leadership in life. “Being politically involved gives us more agency in determining our laws and leaders, which, depending on how we vote, impacts our lives in negative and positive ways.”
To become a Lobby Corps member, CSUMB students can fill out the application found on their website csumb.edu/as/lobby-corps, which takes about 10 to 15 minutes. Once admitted, students can join Lobby Corps weekly meetings on Friday’s from 10 to 11:30 a.m., where an agenda of the organizations civic engagement goals will be discussed. Trivia nights – which are open to non-members – will occur on the first Tuesday of every month.
Quaranta noted the hopes of Lobby Corps since their reemergence last semester. “We are trying to get more people talking about civic engagement … we want students to share their stories to impact policy-making and making of the (university’s) budget.”
Lobby Corps’ next public event will be a budget advocacy party at the end of February and students can check the Lobby Corps website and CSUMB dashboard for more details.