Hopefully snow and ice won’t get in the way of tomorrow’s Mason Lobbies day. Every year around this time, a student-led delegation from Mason pays a visit to Virginia’s legislators to advocate for investments in higher education in our state.
Mason Lobbies, now in its fourth year, is a great learning experience and an effective advocacy tool. Our students visit face to face with individual legislators from around the state, share their views about Mason and the value our university creates for Virginia, and advocate for investments to support our university as well as other public universities. Along the way, they gain a deeper understanding of the legislative process in the Commonwealth and develop a first-hand appreciation of the inner workings of our democracy.
This is the time of the year when our legislators make decisions that are crucial for our universities. Among those decisions are budget appropriations, capital outlays, financial aid, strategic investments, and a host of regulations. Many faculty members and administrators–often with the support of board members, alumni, business and community leaders–spend a great deal of time sharing information with members and staffers of the General Assembly and making the case for investing in our most critical needs and opportunities.
Among our top legislative priorities this year are increased financial aid for students, additional resources for faculty and staff compensation, capital to rebuild our largest academic facility (Robinson Hall) and investments in our new Institute for Biomedical Innovation.
Our advocacy work is not limited to the weeks the General Assembly is in session. We use every opportunity we can to keep Virginia’s elected officials informed of our plans during the year, both through individual visits and other events. For instance, last fall we hosted the House of Delegates’ Appropriations and Finance committees on campus so they could witness our needs first-hand.
Since Mason Lobbies got started, students have proven to be our greatest ambassadors. There is no one better to send the message about the importance of what we do.
Our message is simple: recent Mason graduates boast the top starting salaries in the state and among the lowest student loan default rates in the state and the nation. About 80 percent of our students come from areas the state lawmakers represent. They are among the most diverse in the state, and, contrary to national norms, their academic success isn’t determined by their ethnicity or socioeconomic background.
Some of those students will be among our delegation covering the halls of General Assembly Building in green and gold. By the time the Mason delegation boards the bus for home, every state senator or delegate will have been reminded of our university’s value to the state and the crucial role we play as an economic and innovation engine in Virginia.
Addition, Jan. 27 at 10:22 from Richmond
The weather ended up not cooperating. We had to close our campuses early today and announced a late opening tomorrow because of icy roads in northern Virginia. Much to my chagrin, we had to cancel Mason Lobbies. It’s not yet clear whether it can be rescheduled. Regardless, I am grateful to the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, and the many senators and delegates who were ready to welcome our students tomorrow! I have conveyed our appreciation already to several all them tonight and will continue to reach out to them tomorrow. Our advocacy work, in any case, will go on!