Ryan Williams: A Semester with the Senate
February 3, 2017 • 196 views
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It’s a tradition that has been around since 1829. Senate Pages were originally around 12 years old and came from struggling families that needed the income from the Senate. Today, Pages are high school juniors from all 50 states. They are sponsored by a senator and serve to deliver correspondence, as well as other legislative material, while also attending the Senate Page School.
This past fall semester our own Ryan Williams had the opportunity to serve as a Senate Page and had the chance to speak at the U.S. Senate Page Program Ceremony on Friday, January 27. Ryan has always shown an interest in politics. He is the president of Bob Jones Teenage Republicans and represented our school at the Madison Mayoral Debate this past August.
Williams described it as “getting to be a fly on the wall in part of the highest governing body in our government.”
According to Williams, a regular day involved the following:
- Waking up around 5 am, putting on the uniform, and heading to school.
- School typically lasted until 9:45, but could vary depending on the Senate’s schedule.
- Work consisted of completing amendment runs around the Capitol, being on hand for Senators, setting them up for speeches, and helping the clerks and cloakroom in any way.
- There were two shifts, early and late. “Early shift” was always home by 6:15 p.m. and “late shift” stayed as long as the debate was in session.
- Once home, it was time for homework and sleep.
Being a Senate Page is, undoubtedly, a once in a lifetime experience. Those lucky enough to have the chance take away a load of knowledge at the end that can help propel them into the future.
Williams describes a particular experience, “One time I was able to attend a committee hearing that involved a contentious issue in the banking sector. I noted that one Senator decided to use his time to effectively interrogate the official on hand while another listened thoughtfully and asked careful questions. I figured that the second Senator was trying to understand the entire situation to prevent it from happening again while the other was more interested in making a statement. I found I respect both strategies, but I saw more merit in the quieter and more careful approach.”
While his semester as a Senate Page has come to an end, Ryan’s political involvement is far from over.