HOST A CAMPUS TOUR
There is no better way to showcase your institution's importance to the community to a member of Congress than hosting a campus. Members of Congress are always eager to touch base with the people in their districts, and welcome the opportunity to spend time with the constituents whose interests they represent in Washington, D.C. Even better, collaborate with employer and association advocates in the community to set up a "Campus Open House" for members of Congress and their staff. Not only is this type of orientation beneficial for your institution and the visiting member of Congress, but the member can make valuable district contacts, receive local publicity and lay the foundation for a quality relationship between both parties.
Work with APSCU
The ASPCU Grassroots team can assist with the campus tour process and provide you with invaluable materials from invitation letter templates and background documents to tour set-up and follow-up guidance.
Scheduling the Tour
Some members have their district staff handle invitations for local events; others rely on their scheduler in Washington, D.C. You have to be flexible when it comes to scheduling an event with your members of Congress. Provide several possible dates, and if a staffer offers to attend in the member's place, take them up on the offer. When picking dates for a tour, we recommend that you consult the congressional calendar to suggest a date when the member is in their home state/district. The U.S. House of Representatives' calendar can be found here and the U.S. Senate's calendar here.
Preparation for the Tour
Leading up to the visit, map out what the member will see and be sure to provide a way for the member to meet your current students, graduates, faculty, staff, and community advocates while on campus. Not only will your campus community appreciate the chance to meet a member of Congress, but your elected official will certainly appreciate the opportunity to meet voters. Before or after the tour, consider arranging an informal gathering so that all have a chance to ask the member questions, and to tell him or her about your institution. Keep the entire visit under two hours. Once the tour is confirmed, create a packet of information for the elected official on what your institution does for students, graduates and community businesses. Include important information on your students and graduates – both statistics and personal stories. Additionally, APSCU's state fact sheets can provide your elected official with a picture of the sector as a whole and can be found on the APSCU website.
Public Relations & Social Media
Most likely, a member's press secretary will handle media outreach to promote a visit and garner interest from the press in attending an event, but you can take the lead to publicize your member's visit by distributing a press release and writing an article for your institution or state association newsletter. If your institution does not have an internal Public Relations department, APSCU's Communications team is here to assist you with the process. If you require assistance, contact APSCU's Vice President of Communications Noah Black.
If you and the member discussed specific sector issues, please share that information with APSCU and your state association. This type of information is often very helpful in our government relations outreach. Finally, be sure to follow-up with the member and his or her staff after the visit and thank them for taking the time to visit your institution.
If you have any questions on Grassroots Advocacy, please contact APSCU Director of Grassroots Tami Plofchan at 202.336.6811 or via email.
For a "Campus Tour Guide" complete with template documents, please contact APSCU Government Relations Program Specialist Kristine Gager at 202.336.6714 or via email.