Even as she stressed the importance of student involvement in local politics, Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) witnessed a strong display of student activism in a Saturday discussion. A representative of Students For Ending The War In Iraq (SEWI) presented DeLauro with 155 signed letters from students urging immediate U.S. withdrawal from Iraq.

The event was organized by the University’s chapter of the Roosevelt Institution, a national network of student think-tanks.

“I’m going to make this an official solicitation to you,” DeLauro said. “We need your ideas, we need your writings, we need your thoughts.”

In addition to representing the Third Congressional District, which includes Middletown, DeLauro has several ties to Wesleyan and the Roosevelt Institution in particular. Her association with the University started in the early 1980s when her husband Stanley Greenberg, president of Greenberg-Quinlan Research, Inc., served as a visiting professor.

DeLauro herself is scheduled to receive an honorary degree at the commencement ceremony on May 27.

As a member of the Roosevelt Institution’s National Advisory Board, she holds an active leadership position in the nation’s first student political think tank. Founded in November 2004, the Roosevelt Institution seeks to deliver student research and ideas to policymakers at all government levels.

The co-founder of the University’s chapter, Sophia Dumaine ’09, heard about the Roosevelt Institution through friends who were involved with the think-tank at Middlebury and Yale.

“I thought it was very important that Wesleyan have some involvement with this institution,” Dumaine said.

Along with Zach Schecter Steinberg ’08, Dumaine decided to start the campus chapter at the beginning of the school year. The group meets every Tuesday at 8 p.m. on the third floor of Davenport Campus Center. DeLauro’s speech was their first official event.

“We particularly wanted DeLauro,” Dumaine said, citing the congresswoman’s involvement both with Middletown and the Roosevelt Institution. “I thought her speech was really great.”

DeLauro addressed subjects such as affordable health care and paid sick leave with students during her speech in Woodhead lounge. Before formally beginning her talk at 1 p.m., she sat with students in the audience and discussed grassroots politics. During the question and answer session after her speech, DeLauro left the podium to individually address students with specific questions and concerns.

One such student was Erik Rosenberg ’08, who came on behalf of SEWI and asked DeLauro how she thought the war in Iraq was affecting the fight for better healthcare in America. Rosenberg then presented DeLauro with 155 signed letters from students, urging the congresswoman to support bill H.R. 508, which would require the United States military to disengage from Iraq and provide assistance for reconstruction and reconciliation in Iraq.

“I appreciate the letters very, very much and I appreciate your continuous engagement,” DeLauro said in response to Rosenberg.

Another member of the Roosevelt Institution, Elana Baurer ’09, hoped for continuing student engagement. In addition to Environmental Policy Symposium, which the Roosevelt Institution and the Environmental Organizer Network have planned for next Saturday, Wesleyan Roosevelt members hope to write a policy paper before the year is over. The paper would address the need for further composting on campus and in Middletown.

Baurer said she welcomed the submission of any policy papers written by students.

“We always want more students to be involved,” she said.

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