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Photo from Mark Kim

Penn Public Policy Consulting traveled to Washington, D.C. to meet with members of Congress, expressing concerns over the recent funding cuts the United States made toward the United Nations. 

On Tuesday, for their first event of the semester, members of the group met with Washington Office Director of the U.N. Population Fund Sarah Craven and European Union Ambassador David O'Sullivan.  

College junior Mark Kim, managing partner of the group, said that this allowed for students to be represented in public policy discussions, while also allowing students to connect with experienced staffers, motivating them to have these discussions beyond campus.

Group members discussed the Trump Administration's budget constraints for the U.N. with multiple foreign policy and legislative correspondents, associates, and directors. Their appeals primarily focused on UNICEF and the U.N. Population Fund, a fund for sexual and reproductive health around the world.

In preparation for this event, the group worked closely with members of UNICEF and the UNFPA, who provided them with guidance. They focused on discussing the benefits of UNICEF and UNFPA and bringing up a conversation on the implications of such budget constraints. 

In December 2017, the U.S. announced it helped negotiate a $285 million cut on the U.N.’s budget. The U.S., which contributes 22 percent of the U.N.’s budget, also proposed a 16 percent decrease in funding for UNICEF.

“We are worried about the long-term implications of the Trump administration’s decision to withdraw funding from the U.N.,” Kim said.

He reiterated that it is indispensable for students to critically engage in public policy discussions, as their points of view and suggestions are vital to the current issues of the country.

Concerned that student voices are not heard in the legislative process, Senior Partner of the group and College sophomore Aidan Goodchild explained that the Public Policy Consulting group strives to provide a platform for student perspectives on the country’s issues to be taken into consideration.

Both Goodchild and Senior Partner and College senior Alexander Zhang emphasized that the success of the event is possible due to the personal discussions with staffers on Capitol Hill and one-on-one insight that students gain from these interactions. 

The group also focused on spreading awareness of this topic on Penn's campus and gaining support from other Penn organizations, such as Penn for UNICEF and Seneca International. 

Kim said the group will soon publish a summary of members' conversations with the Capitol Hill officials and reflections of the event.  

This is not the first time club members traveled to D.C. to talk with representatives. Last semester, the Public Policy Consulting group met with legislators to advocate against the Trump administration's proposed budget cuts to the nation's food stamp program. 

Kim ensured that the group's continuous mission of organizing events allows the group to “continue to grow as a movement for students to be more active in the legislative advocacy in D.C.”