Millikin University student attorneys and delegates took part in the 38th annual Model Illinois Government (MIG) simulation held Feb. 25-28 at the Illinois State Capital Complex in Springfield, Ill.
Each spring semester, students from around the state of Illinois participate in the Model Illinois Government simulation which is structured for a legislative simulation as well as a Moot Court competition. This year's simulation included nearly 300 students from over 20 colleges and universities.
The MIG Moot Court competition is held in the chambers that were once the home of the Illinois Supreme Court. Teams of attorneys argue before a panel of student justices and legal professionals and are scored on the basis of presentation and knowledge of the case fact. Millikin University brought four teams to this year's competition.
The team of Taylor Godwin, a senior political science major from Hillsboro, Ill., and Nick Roberson, a senior political science major from East Troy, Wis., along with the team of Jeff Broch, a senior communication major from Tuscola, Ill., and McKensie Meadows, a senior philosophy major from Decatur, Ill., advanced to the quarterfinal round. From there, the team of Broch and Meadows advanced to the semifinal and final rounds. Broch and Meadows took 2nd Place overall.
Jeff Broch was honored with the award for Most Outstanding Novice Moot Court Attorney.
"Moot Court stands out to me as being one of the greatest learning experiences that I underwent throughout college," said Meadows. "It requires every student involved to step outside of his or her comfort zone, think critically and learn how to prepare effective arguments."
In addition to the students who participated as attorneys, two Millikin students participated as student justices. Courtney Burress, a senior philosophy and music double major from Marseilles, Ill., completed her year-long service as Chief Justice for the 2015-2016 Model Illinois Government Moot Court competition. Burress had numerous responsibilities including working with the case file author to generate the case problem and securing the services of professional justices to judge rounds. Burress was assisted at the competition by Kiana Holmes, a senior sociology major from Elgin, Ill., who served as an Associate Justice.
"Our student attorneys worked extremely hard in advance of and during the competition to produce and then deliver sophisticated legal arguments. All students did outstanding work over the course of the competition," said Dr. Robert Money, professor of philosophy at Millikin University. "Moot Court is interdisciplinary Performance Learning at a very high level. It is an honor to work with such bright and motivated students."
The competition also included contributions from three Millikin University alumni who served as professional justices. Justin Allen '10 received his Juris Doctor from Washington University in 2013 and is currently an associate with the firm of Plews, Shadley, Racher, and Braun in Indianapolis, Ind., where he focuses on commercial litigation, environmental litigation and insurance cost recovery actions. Klay Baynar '11 received his Juris Doctor from the University of Minnesota Law School in 2014. Baynar is currently a law clerk for the Honorable Susan N. Burke in Hennepin County District Court. Josh Rose '15 is currently completing his first year of law school at St. Louis University School of Law.
It requires every student involved to step outside of his or her comfort zone, think critically and learn how to prepare effective arguments.
Students in the MIG Legislature simulation are assigned political parties and districts and placed in committees of their particular interests. The legislators then simulate the legislative processes in the actual committee rooms and chambers of the Capitol building.
Millikin University brought 13 delegates to this year's MIG Legislature simulation. Students Morgan McKee, a sophomore political science major from Decatur, and Blake Knox, a junior history major from Greenville, Ill., were in their first year of simulation and took on leadership roles in their legislative committees. Junior Courtney Woelfel, a political science major from Jerseyville, Ill., ran a commendable campaign for Secretary of State.
"The Millikin University delegation did an outstanding job at Model Illinois Government. I was constantly impressed with their level of preparedness, excellence in debate and poise under pressure," said Amber Lusvardi, lecturer of political science at Millikin. "The students were able to use their classroom knowledge of public policy and the political system and apply it very successfully during the simulation."
Senior Kate Wrigley, a political science major from Decatur, wrote a piece of original legislation on the need for Spanish language and culture to be a mandatory part of a K-12 education. Her bill passed committee and on the floor of the House of Representatives with bipartisan support, a difficult feat at Model Illinois Government.
"I experienced true collaboration as the Education committee debated my legislation and amended it to include all languages," said Wrigley. "I find it particularly rewarding to be a part of an experience that encourages college students to learn how to simulate the Illinois Legislature in a manner not based on partisanship, but on solidarity."
Millikin students who also participated in the legislature simulation include the following: Abby Beaty, a senior political science major from Nokomis, Ill.; Paige Ehrat, a senior communication major from Shobonier, Ill.; Paisley Spence, a junior political science major from Libertyville, Ill.; Sabrina LeBlanc, a sophomore political science major from Carbondale, Ill.; Hadisa Wali, a junior political science major from Kabul, Afghanistan; Caleb Williams, a first-year political science major from Bradley, Ill.; Colten Watrous, a sophomore political science major from Decatur; Julisa Sierra, a first-year political science major from Chicago; and Jenny Zima, a senior political science major from Greenfield, Wis.
For more information on Model Illinois Government, visit modelilgov.org.