The COVID-19 pandemic shows how connected United States citizens are and how dependent they are on one another. Some Kansas State students knew this long before the pandemic disrupted daily life, which led them to join RESULTS, a bipartisan advocacy group.
Pranav Savanur, junior in biology and president of the Manhattan chapter of RESULTS, became interested in helping people while taking Michael Wesch’s cultural anthropology course in the fall of 2018. Savanur said he learned about Paul Farmer and his work in medicine and human rights advocacy and it set Savanur on a path to help others.
Savanur said he always knew he would help people by being a doctor, but this opened new pathways for him. He learned about global health issues and the impact he could make on the world.
While studying abroad in Liverpool, England, Savanur learned about the opportunities offered by RESULTS.
“I applied to it and everything, then attended the conference and met fellow K-State students and other students from across Kansas,” Savanur said.
Savanur became a Real Change Fellow and attended the RESULTS conference last summer. This summer, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the annual conference will be online and an in-person event is planned for February 2021.
RESULTS teaches their advocates to communicate with politicians and create a dialogue around issues related to poverty.
Melissa Bryan, junior in biology, learned about RESULTS through her sorority as a freshman.
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“They were able to share their story, and I was in awe at the work they were doing,” Bryan said via email. “I felt they brought to light many issues that are very important to all of us, but we do not think about on a daily basis. In an effort to show our representatives that we valued these initiatives, RESULTS led our entire sorority in writing letters to Congress advocating for the Reach Every Mother and Child Act.”
After that, Bryan trained to become a RESULTS volunteer.
“Earlier this year, I met Pranav as we were both TAs for Intro to Cultural Anthropology,” Bryan said. “After some long chats about what we were passionate [about], he had shared with me that he was a RESULTS fellow and I have been working with him since.”
Together, Bryan and Savanur are working to create a RESULTS Manhattan and K-State chapter. Currently, RESULTS is not a registered student organization.
“We have more impact as a non-registered Manhattan chapter than a registered K-State chapter,” Savanur said. “We have more leverage of bringing in people who are not part of the K-State community.”
Savanur said the plan is to register as an independent student organization once they have more members.
Although they don’t have many Manhattan or K-State members, the local RESULTS team continues to advocate for policies that end poverty. Savanur and Bryan are passionate about access to housing and health care and how these can help end the poverty cycle.
“I mainly focus on the global side of issues because of my exposure towards my experiences in India and my work experience in the U.K. and Africa,” Savanur said. “So I mainly focus on that, but as the president of RESULTS Manhattan, I also educate people on the domestic part of it.”
Savanur has talked to Sen. Pat Roberts about SNAP benefits and other ways of helping low-income families during the pandemic.
“We really want to show constant support towards building SNAP because it will not only help low income houses fund [putting] food on the table — it will also help your economy which is very important right now,” Savanur said. “People in low income families literally spend most of their income for meeting basic needs.”
To promote global health, Bryan advocates for Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance.
“I feel it is our duty to highlight that these issues matter to constituents,” Bryan said.
Bryan and Savanur both said the COVID-19 pandemic highlights the need for extended SNAP benefits and a renters’ holiday.
“Food and shelter are crucial during this crisis and we want to make sure no one has been left behind when delegating aid,” Bryan said. “I feel these issues are quite relevant to K-Staters.”
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Savanur said the pandemic also shows how public health and politics are closely related. He cites Rep. Roger Marshall, a doctor and politician currently running for U.S. Senate.
“That’s also a great example of seeing how healthcare and policymaking in politics cannot be separated,” Savanur said.