What Happened When I Tried to Meet With My Elected Representative John Boehner
Photo Credit: By United States House of Representatives (http://republicanleader.house.gov/Bio/) [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
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This is a story that should be fairly disturbing. I am a 19 year old college student hailing from West Chester, Ohio. I set forth last spring (early April) to speak to my congressman—John Boehner—about issues that were incredibly important to me. At the time my family was in financial crisis. My father had been out of work for almost a year, my mother's hours had been cut, though her job didn't provide her with healthcare anyway.
Of course, I was having trouble paying for college. I attend The Ohio State University, which has one of the lowest tuition of any University in the state of Ohio—but it was still a lot of money. I had taken off the fall semester of my freshman year to work and hopefully pay some bills. I wanted to talk to Congressman Boehner because at the time a huge debate over student loan interest rates was going on. I wanted to tell him how much this mattered, how students like me would use the opportunity given—but we just needed a little help.
I was so sure I could do this. I was so absolutely sure that if a normal person worked hard enough, they could speak to their most local representative to Washington.
I was wrong. Dead wrong.
How I Started
I began by sending an email and making a phone call to the local West Chester office. When both responses resulted in the same exact letter of reply, I grew conscientious about whether Congressman Boehner was actually hearing anything I was saying. I began to get the impression that I was simply being sent the same generic response about Rep. Boehner working during college to pacify me, rather than because people actually cared.
This is when I decided I wanted to talk to him face-to-face. I knew it wouldn't be easy and that I wouldn't be given much time. I was okay with that. I know that with five minutes I could explain to the Congressman how important education was to me, and how we needed to offer lower interest rates, not higher. I sent emails asking to meet with him, underlining my concerns with college affordability.
I kept getting the same letters in the mail. The same generic responses.
A month had passed, and I was more than a bit angry. It was looking to be harder and harder to go back to OSU next semester, and my most local representative to Washington DC didn't seem to care.
I decided to call his Washington DC office and explain to them my desire to meet with Congressman Boehner. They seemed unsure about this request, but the aide on the phone was extremely polite and gave me the email address for the scheduling team. I was encouraged by this, it seemed like I was heading in the right direction.
On June 17th, 2013 I sent the following email:
To whom this may concern:
My name is Jake Geers, I am a student and community organizer who is the son of two hard working Americans. I have been working full time alongside my education and would like the opportunity to give a middle American perspective to the congressman regarding the student loan crisis in America. I am willing to meet with Rep. Boehner here in west Chester or in Washington D.C.
Please email me back with any questions. I understand the schedule may be full, and despite the pending deadline of July 1 I am fully open to speaking with the congressman any day after July 7th.