Donna Shahbazi, a College of Arts and Sciences junior and the president of the Creighton Students Union, represented Creighton University as a Delta Zeta sorority member in Washington, D.C. April 8-11, defending the rights of fraternity and sorority life on college campuses.
Approximately 100 students, 50 boys and 50 girls, were chosen out of 1200 applicants to represent the sororities and fraternities across the United States to lobby on Capitol Hill for the right for single-sex organizations to freely associate on college campuses in light of the 1st and 14th amendments.
These combat restrictions of schools like Harvard, Michigan, Tufts and West Virginia, as well as advocating for two anti-hazing bills that work to prevent hazing within all college organizations.
The students lobbied for all of these to be included in the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act in the 116th Congress.
“This trip meant the world to me,” Shahbazi said. “I am so proud to be a Delta Zeta woman, and a member of Fraternity and Sorority Life. This issue is real and time sensitive, and people don’t realize that. Our community is being threatened…This trip reminded me that our community is precious and worth fighting for.”
Over the course of five days, Shahbazi went through numerous hours of training. On Wednesday, she was presented with the opportunity to ask the lawmakers on Capitol Hill questions. The group of students asked Congress to support the three bills.
On Thursday night, Shahbazi was chosen to be one of three keynote speakers for a congressional dinner where members of Congress, student lobbyists and FSL alumni were present.
In her speech, Shahbazi said, “Fraternity and Sorority life is our family. It’s our community. It’s our network. It’s our passion. It’s our home. It’s our identity. Why would you take that away from us?”
“I think it all starts with education and informing our students,” she said. “Delta Zeta, here at Creighton, hosted that “Fight for FSL” phone-a-thon back in December, but even then, students weren’t aware of the restrictions being placed on our community by institutions of higher education across the country. When I get back to campus, I want to start with education and then move forward to a call to action.
“I have a strong feeling that God is calling me to Washington D.C. to advocate and fight for what’s right and this was just a glimpse of what I hope to do in the future,” added Shahbazi.
The Rev. Daniel Hendrickson, president of Creighton, said, “Donna's visit to Washington, D.C. this week is a meaningful example of Creighton students' ability to make a positive impact on the world. Her advocacy as a student, sorority woman and president of the Creighton Students Union is exciting and inspiring.”