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An Eastern Kentucky University senior was one of two Alpha Omicron Pi representatives to lobby in Washington, D.C., recently on behalf of the Fraternal Government Relations Coalition (FGRC).

Rachel Knoebel, a senior public relations major from Florence, Kentucky, and president of the campus chapter of Alpha Omicron Pi, spent three days in the nation’s capital as part of an effort to strengthen the PROSPER Act’s language  in regard to single-gender organizations and students’ right to freely associate and assemble.

The Promoting Real Opportunity, Success and Prosperity through Education Reform (PROSPER) Act, as passed by the Committee on Education and the Workforce, is designed to promote innovation, access and completion; simplify and improve the student aid process; empower students and families to make informed decisions; and ensure strong accountability and a limited federal role. Currently, the legislation only covers registered student organizations. However, Knoebel believes all organizations and students should be protected, allowing all individuals to freely assemble and associate with whomever they wish.

While in D.C., Knoebel had the honor of addressing Kentucky’s Congressional delegation and the opportunity to attend the Political Action Committee dinner for the FGRC. In attendance at the latter event were more than 20 Congressional representatives, including U.S. House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, who spoke that evening.

“It was an honor to represent not only Alpha Omicron Pi but also EKU during the FGRC Congressional visits, as we discussed preserving the history of single-sex organizations,” Knoebel said. “It is time we stand together as a community and protect our students’ First Amendment rights to freely associate.”

Knoebel, a student worker in the Student Life and First Year Experience office at EKU, wasn’t alone in her efforts. Approximately 100 students and 150 alumni from all chapters nationwide stood together on Capitol Hill. Notable alumni included the president of the National Panhellenic Conference, also an Alpha Omicron Pi alum, as 3well as the National Panhellenic Conference Executive Board.

The EKU senior, a 2014 graduate of Boone County High School, also interned in Sen. Rand Paul’s office in Spring 2017 and spent that summer in the White House Office of Presidential Correspondence. She plans to move to Washington, D.C., after graduation and pursue a career in political communication.