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2019 NASPA Hill Days: Empowering Student Affairs Professionals for Congressional Advocacy

Civic Engagement Policy and Advocacy Supporting the Profession Civic Learning and Democratic Engagement Public Policy Division
May 7, 2019

Policymakers around the country, from local school boards to the halls of Congress, rely on the expertise and experiences of residents to craft policies that will make our society stronger and allow our governing bodies to work efficiently for everyone. Similarly, effective governance for colleges and universities requires that those responsible for crafting legislation hear from the thousands of institution-based experts and constituents working with students daily. Policymakers are eager to hear from those who work directly with students about how they can improve the student experience, increase access and completion, and provide necessary supports to close equity gaps in higher education and communities.

Student affairs professionals are often in positions to see how proposed legislation will affect a broad group of students and that sort of expertise is invaluable in helping policymakers create effective and fair legislation. Student affairs professionals see first-hand both the triumphs and the struggles of students in ways that few other campus administrators can. Telling the stories of our students, stories that complement data showing what we know to be true is a powerful advocacy tool. Each student story is unique, but student affairs professionals work with students across campus, allowing perspective to identify trends and patterns in students’ experiences. Every day, student affairs professionals advocate for student success on campus; through the 2019 NASPA Hill Days experience, NASPA staff can help you carry that advocacy to the next level.

Announcing the 2019 NASPA Hill Days experience

More than a simple fly-in advocacy day, the 2019 NASPA Hill Days experience offers training and practice in civic engagement for student affairs professionals at all levels from new professionals to Vice Presidents. Through the late summer and fall, participants will engage with NASPA policy and advocacy and civic learning and democratic engagement staff to build a strong foundation of knowledge about key public policy issues, their individual Congressional delegations, and techniques for engaging in advocacy in order to prepare them for their visits with Congressional members and staff in early December. But not to worry – we know you’re busy on campus, too, so we’ve worked to design learning and engagement with other participants in ways that will fit flexibly into your schedule!

The 2019 NASPA Hill Days experience culminates in a two-day event in our nation’s capital when participants, including Vice Presidents of Student Affairs and senior-level professionals, mid-career professionals, and new professionals working in student affairs, will participate in exclusive briefings with Hill staff and higher education policy experts prior to a day of scheduled small meetings with attendees’ Congressional delegations in the House and Senate.

Develop the skills you need to advocate year-round

Much like advocating for programming on campus, student affairs advocates meeting with public policymakers should understand the interests and goals of those decisionmakers. NASPA policy and advocacy and civic learning and democratic engagement staff have created an interactive program to help.

2019 NASPA Hill Days participants develop the knowledge and skills they’ll rely on when meeting with their Congressional representatives. Specifically, participants will connect with colleagues from across the country to share ideas and stories they think might be particularly powerful in an advocacy setting. They’ll be given dossiers on their Congressional delegations and helped to create specific requests for each meeting in line with the NASPA Public Policy Agenda. Participants will work in teams to coordinate meetings with the elected officials in Washington, D.C. in early December using scripts and customized information provided by NASPA staff.

In December 2019 NASPA Hill Days participants will convene in Washington, D.C. for exclusive briefings with Hill staff and higher education policy experts prior to a day of scheduled small meetings with attendees’ Congressional delegations in the House and Senate.  Advocates will practice successful approaches for meeting with policymakers and meet with members of their Congressional delegations. This two-and-a-half-day event in our nation’s capital will engage institutional representatives of all levels, including Vice Presidents of Student Affairs, senior-level professionals, and new professionals working in student affairs.

We hope you will consider joining us for the 2019 NASPA Hill Days experience! In order to ensure we have a geographically diverse group of participants to meet with as many Congressional delegations as possible, those wishing to participate in 2019 NASPA Hill Days should apply before June 30, 2019. Due to the personalized and customized nature of the 2019 NASPA Hill Days experience, we must limit the event to 75 participants, so apply early to guarantee your spot!