This year, AACRAO’s Congressional Hill Day looked a bit different. Normally, attendees gather for a day of training panels and discussions, then walk the halls of Congress to discuss the association’s legislative priorities. However, the U.S. Capitol remains largely closed to the public due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Instead, Hill Day went virtual, with web-based training modules and Congressional meetings hosted online or via conference calls. Although these events looked and felt different than in previous years, advocates were still able to engage with legislators and share their perspectives as practitioners.
“Our goal was to provide a direct opportunity for AACRAO members to influence key policy issues that impact the institutions and students that they serve,” said AACRAO’s Associate Director of Government Relations Michelle Mott.
“Even though this was our first (and hopefully last) virtual Hill day, I really think that the AACRAO membership was well represented by our advocates, as they did an outstanding job presenting our legislative agenda before members of Congress and their staffs,” said AACRAO Government Relations Director William Gil. “Every meeting increased AACRAO’s standing in the public policy arena and for that we are so grateful to our advocates.”
This year’s virtual Hill Day also provided an opportunity for AACRAO members who may not have been able to attend the in-person event previously to participate.
“[This] was my first experience working with our elected officials, and I enjoyed learning more about that process,” said Destin Tucker, Director of Admissions at the University of Tennessee at Martin.
“I attended Hill day because I have been in education for over 20 years, and I felt I needed to do more to help move the needle on initiatives that can have a positive impact on the students I serve,” said Dorothy Osborne, Senior Assistant Dean for Academic Programs & Student Services at William & Mary School of Education, another first-time attendee.
“I spent a lot of time looking into the issues . . . I learned so much, and I found myself passionate about double Pell,” Osborne added. “I work mostly with graduate students, so I was not aware that Pell had not been increased in so long. As a first-gen[eration] student that used Pell, I could really connect with the issue. It was great that two of the staffers I met with were also first gen[eration].”
“I left the day feeling like these meetings will have a positive impact,” said Osborne. “I am so glad I participated this year.”
Learn more about how you can help to promote the #DoublePell campaign and consider applying for next year’s Congressional Hill Day to lend your voice to other issues we support.