Tennessee Intercollegiate State Legislature

Tennessee Intercollegiate State Legislature

Team based competitions with other colleges and universities involving legislating, litigating, lobbying and more.

Tennessee Intercollegiate State Legislature (TISL) is a new program at Rhodes College, allowing students to gain hands-on experience in state government. Through months of preparation, team members engage in various realms of politics, including legislation, judicial decisions, brief writing, running for office, lobbying, and even journalism. The program culminates in an annual competition held at the state capitol in Nashville in November. TISL is not only an excellent learning opportunity; the networking that takes place through the program often leads to internships and careers in all fields. TISL is open to any student, regardless of major. For more information, visit www.tislonline.org.

TISL News and Events 

November 2011

1st Rhodes TISL Team Leaves Its Mark on the 42nd General Assembly

On November 17th, the newly formed Rhodes chapter of the Tennessee Intercollegiate State Legislature headed to Nashville to participate in its first TISL General Assembly and moot court competition. The team’s accomplishments are especially impressive considering that the members were sophomores (Betsy Swann (chapter founder and head delegate), Kelly Johnson, and Landon Webber) and first-year students (Tyler Adams, James Ekenstedt, Corey Lipschutz, Caroline Ponseti, Hannah Strong, Justice Thompson, Brendan Tyler, and Jess Wilder).

“The Rhodes community should be proud of this group of students,” said Professor Stephen Wirls, the team’s advisor. “Our small delegation had a very big presence in every aspect of the program. I received many compliments from other advisors and was perfectly happy to take no credit for the team’s accomplishments and comportment. Instead, I was very proud to be associated with them.”

Some highlights:           

  • In competition with eight other delegations, Rhodes won the Best New Delegation Award. 
  • The legislative delegation wrote and submitted 11 bills, and several of them were passed into law. Betsy Swann′s bill was placed on the consent calendar, meaning it was unanimously supported in committee and was automatically signed by the governor. Jess Wilder and Kelly Johnson each submitted bills that were passed almost unanimously in both the House of Representatives and the Senate. Tyler Adams′s bill made quite an impact; dealing with LGBT anti-discrimination policies, the bill was heatedly debated for nearly an hour in the Senate before losing on a 15 to 16 vote. The entire Rhodes legislative team was widely complimented on the thoroughness and clarity of their bills.
  • Caroline Ponseti, our one media person, had her stories consistently selected for publication on the back and front pages of the daily newsletter.  
  • Lobbyist Corey Lipschutz worked tirelessly to represent his firm. In one instance, he was directed to oppose a bill that would limit the purchase of over-the-counter drugs, and because of Corey’s success at the committee level, the governor, who supported this bill, had to intervene and send it to another committee.
  • The moot court team (Ekenstedt, Strong, Tyler, Webber) outdid all of the other teams, including Vanderbilt, in winning the “Best Brief” award (as determined by a panel of attorneys), and the team made it to the championship round of oral arguments.

Congratulations to all the team members for your accomplishments. We are indeed proud of each and every one of you.

Rhodes College Will Participate in TISL Competitions for First Time in 30 Years 

By: Caroline Ponseti

During the weekend of November 17-20, eleven Rhodes students will participate in the Tennessee Intercollegiate State Legislature in Nashville, Tennessee. This year is the first time in roughly thirty years that Rhodes College will participate in the competition, which is comprised of delegations from colleges all over the state of Tennessee.  Sophomore Betsy Swann reinstated this program at Rhodes with the support of the administration and political science professor Stephen Wirls, the team’s moderator.

The Tennessee Intercollegiate State Legislature is a mock government program in which Tennessee college students are able to mimic the functions of the Tennessee State government.  Students from each college have the option to be legislators, who write their own bills and attempt to have them passed in the General Assembly, lobbyists, media, or lawyers who debate cases in front of the TISL Supreme Court.  TISL is unique in that the entire competition takes place in the actual Tennessee capitol building, which gives students the full experience of taking part in government. 

Betsy Swann, Jess Wilder, Justice Thompson, Kelly Johnson, and Tyler Adams comprise the team’s legislators, who will work to pass the bills they have prepared in either the House of Representatives or the Senate.

Hannah Strong, Brendan Tyler, James Ekenstedt, and Landon Webber will compete in the Appellate Moot Court Collegiate Challenge, as a team of lawyers arguing their position on a brief.

Caroline Ponseti will compete as a member of the competition’s media team, who will report on the events of the competition.

Corey Lipschutz and Brendan Tyler will also compete as lobbyists.