February 22, 1935
The Political Association was host to over 50 students from 26 colleges and universities who met in a “model senate” to consider three issues facing the country. Welcoming the delegates, Warden Eleanor Dodge ’25 said, “This model senate is entirely within the philosophy of the Vassar faculty. We believe this and similar activities will provide students with a more practical approach to an understanding of our political government, and will enable them to return to their communities…to take an active part in the conduct of government.”
The first day, students, acting as senators from 29 states, were lobbied by teams of Vassar students representing such groups as the Chamber of Commerce, the American Federation of Labor, the Communist Party and the American Legion. Meeting as a judiciary committee, a finance committee and a committee on foreign affairs, the "senators" discussed anti-lynching legislation, unemployment insurance and ratification of United States membership in the League of Nations. On the following morning, after committee meetings, bills were given a first reading, and the bills were voted on after lunch. The model senate brought the United States into the League of Nations, approved anti-lynching legislation and, after revisions and a 45-minute floor argument, voted for unemployment insurance.
A surprise visitor to the event was “Huey Long.” Stepping out of their roles as senators from Louisiana, Lehigh University students Harold K. Ellis and George D. Manson appeared as the flamboyant populist governor and his 180-pound bodyguard. After explaining his “share the wealth program”—“Put more tax on those big oil companies; pile it on heavy on the rich”—the governor referred to his ongoing battle with Postmaster General James A. Farley: “He can’t scare me. I ain’t no stamp collector.”
A Model Senate Association, formed at this meeting, met the following month in New Jersey to lay plans for another model senate meeting for 1936. The New York Times