Much is at stake for us these days in Richmond, as the General Assembly convenes for its 2017 session. For the next few weeks I will be spending quite a bit of time in Richmond with our government relations team and colleagues across the university telling the Mason story and participating in key legislative and budgetary discussions.
In doing this work, we have learned that the most persuasive advocates we have are the several dozen students who, at our annual “Mason Lobbies” event, meet face to face with legislators to discuss the university’s impact and needs.
The students’ Mason Lobbies visit this year is set for the morning of Jan. 25 at the General Assembly Building in Richmond. Registration to join the Mason student delegation remains open at this time.
When our students engage with elected officials — as they are in the picture above with State Senator Bryce Reeves, a Mason alumnus — policy makers see first-hand the kind of talent that Mason attracts and produces. They also gain greater understanding into the role Mason serves as an economic engine and innovator for Northern Virginia and the entire state.
Mason Student Body President Nathaniel Pittman says the university’s student leaders will focus on three areas in particular during their Richmond visit — college affordability, increasing financial aid, and the need for pay increases to retain top faculty and staff. Other participating students may use the opportunity to discuss issues that are important to them. We hope that taking part in Mason Lobbies is just an initial step toward a lifetime of civic engagement and community involvement.
The student government’s agenda overlaps with university legislative and budget priorities outlined by Mason’s Government Relations Council. The council’s items include financial aid, faculty and staff compensation, enrollment growth funding, research infrastructure investment, our partnership with Northern Virginia Community College, programs for military veterans, and capital projects.
I can’t wait to see the General Assembly Building awash in a sea of Green and Gold. Every senator and delegate will leave that day knowing more about Mason, our tremendous value to the state and its citizens, and the commitment of our students to the university’s future.