Model Illinois Government (MIG) is a student-run simulation that gives Illinois college students the opportunity to write and debate legislation, run for elected office, and act as Illinois legislators at the state capitol complex in Springfield, Ill.
Millikin University's legislative delegation had a successful simulation at the annual MIG event held March 2-5. Millikin students took on legislative leadership roles and ran successful campaigns.
Morgan McKee, a junior political science major from Decatur, Ill., was elected by the delegates of the simulation to serve on the Executive Board as the Secretary of State. McKee will serve a one-year term and assist in the planning of next year's simulation and serve as Secretary of State during the 2018 simulation.
Along with McKee, students Audrey Allen, a senior psychology major from Perrysville, Ind., and Colten Watrous, a junior political science major from Decatur, served in leadership roles as committee chairs and vice chairs. Senior history major Emily Wunnenberg, from O'Fallon, Mo., was elected by her caucus to serve as the Senate Democratic Whip, and senior political science major Courtney Woelfel, from Jerseyville, Ill., served as the Deputy Chief of Staff to the Governor.
"As Deputy Chief of Staff to the Governor, I was able to really see the behind the scenes work that goes into making the simulation all that it can be," Woelfel said. "It was rewarding to get to the final day and see all the success and hard work that came out of this year's MIG simulation."
Morgan McKee noted, "The organization of Model Illinois Government gives the students of this state an amazing opportunity that most other states do not have, and I am so glad to be a part of it. I am also proud to be one of the two students representing Millikin University on the board for the simulation next year."
Political Science majors Daisy Sanchez, a junior from Aurora, Ill., Sabrina LeBlanc, a junior from Carbondale, Ill., and Colten Watrous wrote a piece of original legislation called the "Safe Haven Act," which designated Illinois as a Safe Haven state that would not move to deport undocumented workers as long as they are law-abiding citizens. The bill was debated in both committee and on the House of Representatives and Senate floors. It passed both houses and nearly overcame a governor's veto.
"I could not be more proud of the leadership, preparedness and professionalism these students displayed during the simulation," said Amber Lusvardi, lecturer of political science at Millikin. "Our students put Performance Learning into action by serving in leadership roles."
Colten Watrous added, "This was my third year participating in the Model Illinois Government simulation and as a veteran of the organization, I decided to take up the position of chairman of the Education Committee."
Watrous will serve as president of Millikin's Model Illinois Government team next academic year. "It was a good experience to have co-authored a piece of legislation and to see some really incredible debating on both sides for the bill, and then have it actually pass in both the House and Senate during the simulation."
Along with the MIG simulation, the annual Moot Court competition was held in the chambers that were once the home of the Illinois Supreme Court. Teams of attorneys argued before a panel of student justices and legal professionals and were scored on the basis of presentation and knowledge of the case fact.
Four teams of Millikin student-attorneys participated:
Elaine Ortyl, a senior philosophy major from Zionsville, Ind., and John Tasch, a senior philosophy major from Roselle, Ill.
Quinn Nguyen, a junior biology major from Lincolnwood, Ill., and Lukas Myers, a junior philosophy major from Taylorville, Ill.
Janine Norman, a junior musical theatre major from St. Louis, Mo., and Arlo Frantz-Greene, a sophomore English secondary teaching major form St. Louis.
Korinne Lollar, a senior music business major from Edwardsville, Ill., and Madison Ludwick, a first-year digital media marketing major from Decatur.
Three of the four teams advanced to the quarterfinal round of the competition.
In addition to the students who participated as attorneys, two Millikin alumni and past participants in the competition, Klay Baynar '11 and Josh Rose '15, returned to serve as professional judges.
Josh Rose is completing his second year of law school at St. Louis University School of Law, and Klay Baynar was recently named the law clerk for Justice Shirley Abrahamson of the Wisconsin Supreme Court for the 2017-2018 term.
"Our students worked extremely hard in advance of and during the competition to produce and then deliver sophisticated legal arguments," said Dr. Robert Money, professor of philosophy at Millikin. "Our students once again demonstrated outstanding skill and competitive spirit under challenging circumstances. Moot Court is interdisciplinary Performance Learning at a very high level. It is an honor to work with such bright and motivated students."
Student-attorney Quinn Nguyen was elected to serve as Chief Justice of the Model Illinois Government Moot Court competition for 2017-2018. He will be on the Model Illinois Government Executive Board for the upcoming year and will be responsible for organizing, planning and implementing next year's competition. Nguyen is the third Millikin student to hold this important position.
"I am extremely excited to take on this position," Nguyen said. "Since the day I was sworn in, I've been working on ways to improve the entire simulation and make it a more rewarding experience. Currently, I am looking at different topics that I want next year's case to revolve around. Ideally, a good case will pertain to current events to promote global citizenship."
For more information on Model Illinois Government, visit modelilgov.org.