HHE Advocacy Guide


Calls to Action

The process begins with a call to action, which we receive from the university system through Chancellor Ronnie Green's office. Calls to action are carefully timed around issues in the Unicameral and require immediate attention. The most important part of this program is your participation. Calls to action are issued by email or other method if you don't have email. They will describe the issue at hand and the university's position, give clear instructions for contacting your legislator and include a feedback reminder.

Unless otherwise requested, use the communication method you are most comfortable with to communicate quickly and effectively. Although it may not be feasible to schedule a meeting with a legislator on short notice, face-to-face contact is the most effective means of communication.

Please email us at alumni@huskeralum.org once you have made contact with the senator's office. Let her know what type of a response you receive. Any feedback from the senator or his office is very helpful. 


Connecting With Your Unicameral*

 

Face-to-Face Meetings

Face-to-face meetings work well because they allow senators to put faces with names. The best way to set up a meeting with a senator is to contact his or her legislative office and work with the staff member that handles the senator's schedule. When preparing for a meeting with a legislator, remember that his or her time may be limited. Try to have your thoughts gathered ahead of time so you can communicate your needs and positions clearly and concisely. If you cannot visit with the senator, it is also appropriate to visit with staff that has direct contact and influence with their respective senator. Always be respectful to staff; many times they will give their opinion to a senator after your conversation.

Phone Calls

Phone calls are effective because they allow for direct contact between constituents and legislators and are often easier to schedule than face-to-face meetings. Having your thoughts prepared ahead of time is still a good idea. If it is not possible to talk directly with the legislator, communicate your thoughts to a member of the legislator's staff. Staff will see to it that your comments are forwarded to the senator.


Letters

Written letters are effective because they allow constituents to be complete and precise about their needs and positions. It is best to keep the letter focused on the main points you wish to make and to avoid rambling. Taking a constructive approach to the issue is more likely to receive attention. Letters that are written by you in your own words are much more effective than form letters.

Email

The senators have public email addresses available on the legislature's website. Because of the large volume of email a senator's office receives, one should not expect to automatically receive a response to every message sent. It is best when contacting your senator by email to treat it like a regular letter. You will have more credibility if you place your name and contact information at the bottom of the note. This will also allow the legislator the flexibility of responding either electronically or by regular mail.  

*Information taken from "The Nebraska Legislature: The Nation's Only Unicameral"
Published 2012
Unicameral Information Office

Additional Tips

  • Once you have had a face-to-face meeting, phone conversation or email exchange with the legislator, send a follow-up note restating the university's position and thanking them for their consideration.
  • Express gratitude for the senator's staff because they do the most work with research, interaction with constituents and relaying messages sent to the senator.
  • Always be respectful to staff.
  • For additional impact, tell the senator how the university affects you.
  • Ask to be placed on the senator's mailing list, if you are not already.
  • If meeting with your senator at the Capitol isn't possible because you live outside of Lincoln, arrange to meet with them when they're home or attend an event where the senator will be in attendance such as a town hall meeting, etc.
  • Be brief and to the point with your communications.
  • Be candid and personal. Use your own words.
  • Identify yourself as a constituent or supporter.
  • Discuss only one issue per communication.
  • Be appreciative and supportive. Acknowledge any support he or she has given for higher education.
  • Agree to disagree. If you and your senator have opposing views, respectfully refute the senator's arguments and restate strong points to back up your view.
  • Use facts and numbers that you are sure are correct, in order to garner more credibility.
  • If the senator doesn't contact you, send a follow-up seeking assistance and information on a certain issue.
  • If a senator asks you a question and you don't know the answer, offer to get back to them with the correct information. Never pretend you know the information or purposely give false information.