By Lisa Sohmer, Consultant

Sohmer College Counseling


Election days in 2016 and 2017 have, with great clarity, shown us the value and importance of interacting with our elected officials.  Living in the United States offers us the freedom to reach out to our representatives at the local, state and federal level — it also gives us the responsibility to do so.

Lobbying 101

Join the NACAC Legislative Action Center for information on pending legislation on issues related to students and institutions. The Action Center produces Action Alerts with e-mails that you can edit, sign and send. The Action Center also publishes press releases that can be sent to local media outlets.

Contact counts: Staffers keep track of the number of calls, letters and e-mails received for each issue and elected officials are influenced by the numbers.

Put your opinion in writing: Write letters, send postcards, send e-mails.

Speak as a constituent: Combine the power of your voice with the power of your vote.

Be specific: If you have access to statistics, include them.

Use anecdotes and personal experiences: Supplement your argument with stories from yourself, your colleagues and your students.

Offer to be an expert: Elected officials and their aides need to know where to get information about our issues. Let the office know that you are able (and willing) to gather and share information.

Local offices are accessible…and meaningful: All members of Congress maintain state offices. If you are unable to travel to DC, consider making an appointment with a staffer close to home or attending a town hall.

Throughout my time as a member of NACAC, NYSACAC and WACAC, I have had the opportunity to meet with members of congress and their aides in Washington, DC and Albany, NY. I regularly participate in the NACAC legislative action center and communicate with my elected officials by phone (mostly messages), e-mail and letters. Over the past year, I have also joined larger lobbying groups such as I know that my voice and my vote matter at the polls and every day.

You can also follow WACAC’s Government Relations committee on Facebook!