Time to speak up!: Congress is headed for its August recess. This means that throughout the month of August members of your congressional delegation will be back in your state and your district. The purpose of this month long break is for members to reconnect with their constituents. Members will hold town halls, visit a wide range of businesses and institutions and hold fund raisers. This is the time for you, their constituents, to let them know what concerns you and how you expect them to respond to those concerns when they return to Washington.
Town Hall Schedules
To find out when your Senators or your Representative will hold town hall meetings call the respective office that is closest to you. Find your House member here. Find your Senators here. Ask the individual that answers the phone what the town hall schedule is for the month of August. Make sure they share the times and location with you as well.
Preparing for the Town Hall
Prepare for the town hall by writing out one or two points you want to make during the town hall. Town halls regularly include a time for constituents to step to the microphone and ask the member a question. State your question in an open ended format so there is less chance of a yes or no response from the member. You can also use a format that includes a statement and then ask the member to respond to the statement. You will have just a brief opportunity to make your statement/ask your question. The member will have all the time he or she wants to take to respond. If there are others ahead of you and time does not allow you to step to the microphone then share your statement/question in writing to the member and ask for a response. However you share your statement/question make sure to get a response and hold that member accountable for that response in a manner that meets your needs.
Make it personal!
While there are many issues to bring to the attention of your delegation, AACP members can help their delegation understand the negative impact of reduced federal funding on your research, teaching and service. Making a statement or asking a question in the first person, that is related to your personal situation, is the best way of making the member appreciate your situation. You can always follow up with details about the impact to the larger public, but making it personal makes it easy for you to speak from experience and not have to remember a bunch of data that may mean nothing to your personally.
There are plenty of resources available to help you determine the statement or question you want your member to respond to. AACP Policy and Advocacy Updates for several months now have included information about reduced federal funds through the sequester. The NDD United Web page includes tools, resources and examples of the sequester impact. These resources should be supplemental to your personal story, not a primary resource of developing a statement or question. As stated early, the first person story is the most influential.
You make a difference!
Consider the editorial written by AACP member Andrea Gore. Her personal story took the form of an editorial in Endocrinology. This is a first person narrative of what reduced federal funding means to her. She includes a recommended action. Her editorial included this statement: "Scientists are struggling to manage the operations of their laboratories in a void of solid information about upcoming grant budgets." That statement allowed AACP staff to include it in a letter asking members of the House of Representatives to seek release of the FY14 bill that sets funding for the National Institutes of Health and other federal public health agencies. That statement also was appropriate for inclusion of a letter of thanks to the Senate Appropriations Committee for completing their work on the FY14 bill mentioned above.
This personal story (Andrea’s editorial), connected to the story of a national organization (AACP), connects with the story of a large collective of like-minded organizations (NDD United) to influence public policy. In this case these connections strengthen the collective request to Congress to cease using non-defense discretionary funding as the sole source for federal spending reductions and reducing the deficit.
Now it’s your turn to speak up!
We hope you will take advantage of this opportunity for civic engagement and advocacy for your work. If you attend a town hall, please let Will Lang at AACP know where it was, who you spoke with, and what your statement or question was. Thanks!
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Founded in 1900, the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP) is a national organization representing the interests of pharmacy education and educators. Comprising all accredited colleges and schools of pharmacy including more than 6,400 faculty, 57,000 students enrolled in professional programs and 5,700 individuals pursuing graduate study, AACP is committed to excellence in pharmacy education.