Visiting your Representative on Capitol Hill is a time-honored tradition of science advocacy. Speaking with a Representative or one of their staffers is an effective way to make your voice heard and get your message across. Although the Hill may seem intimidating, offices are very welcoming to their constituents and take great pride in understanding their constituents’ concerns. You can use the steps below to orchestrate your visit to the Hill, or you can contact ASCB and we can help you with your visit.
STEP ONE: ARRANGE THE APPOINTMENT
- Locate your Congressional Representative and Senators here.
- Call the number listed by your Representative and ask them to set up a meeting between you and the Congressperson or Senator.
- The person that you speak with may suggest that you speak with a staffer.
- Expect that your Representative may be unavailable for a meeting, so you should be willing to speak with a staffer. Don’t be disappointed if this is the case because staffers are incredibly well-informed and can still help you establish a relationship within the office.
- Have multiple options for appointment times.
- If you go with a group, decide who among you will speak and at what juncture.
STEP TWO: AT THE OFFICE
- Establish your legitimacy. Introduce yourselves and your group. Identify yourselves as constituents and scientists, researchers, etc.
- Describe your concern. Talk about how the issue affects you, your job, and/or the community at large. It is very likely that the person you are speaking to will not be an expert in your field, so make sure to explain your research in a way that will make sense to the average person. Anecdotes may be helpful.
- Don’t settle for non-answers. If congressional staff are dodging your question— if they say they have to check back and respond to you—be polite but firm. For example, you might say, “I’m disappointed that Senator Springsteen hasn’t taken a position on NIH funding for biomedical research. This is a serious matter. We’ll be watching to see when he takes a position, and we’ll be back in touch to continue expressing our views.”
The ASCB has other “Be an Advocate for Science” how-to papers to help you be an advocate for science.