Advocacy 101

What you can do to help:
  1. View UC Resources
  2. Be informed about the issues
  3. Become an advocate for UC
  4. Tell 5 friends to join the movement
Contacting your state legislator

The "find elected officials" link at right will help you find which state Assembly member and state Senator represents you and provide you with direct access to your legislators' websites, where you can get contact information to write a letter, call or visit their office.

Meet with your legislator. State legislators often will meet with their constituents in the district the legislator represents. These district office visits, which generally occur when the state Legislature is on recess and elected officials are working from their district offices, are an effective way for people to communicate with legislators or their staff.

Attend an event. Many legislators host "Town Hall" meetings, community forums, and other district-based events. Legislators' websites usually allow you to view a calendar of upcoming events where you can personally meet your legislator and ask them to support UC.

Before you meet...

  • Learn about the official you are meeting and the status of the issue you will discuss. (If you need help, contact the UC Office of State Governmental Relations in Sacramento at (916) 445-9924.
  • Plan what you will say and stay "on message."
  • Discuss the issue in non-technical, jargon-free language; be brief.
  • If you are part of a group of UC advocates, choose a spokesperson (preferably a constituent) and decide on a common strategy.
  • Expect to meet for 15 minutes. Arrive early and leave on time. And be sure to thank the elected official for considering your point of view and your request.
  • Expect schedule changes — an elected official's business must come first. If there is a delay, a staff member will handle the appointment. That's fine: staffers often are the most knowledgeable issue experts in the office and can be very influential.
  • Remain positive and courteous.
  • Follow up with a brief thank-you letter that reiterates the purpose of your visit and invites the elected official to call upon you and UC Government Relations staff for help.
  • Think long-term: work to build an ongoing relationship with elected officials and their staffs.

Tips and talking points

It can help to have reminders in hand to keep your message consistent and the meeting on track. Here are some additional resources you can use:

Tips for Meeting with Your Legislators (pdf)

If you will be writing a letter:

  • Timing is important. If your letter arrives after the city council, state legislature, or Congress acts, it is an opportunity lost. And if it arrives too soon, the issue might fade from the elected official's radar screen.
  • Limit each letter to a single page and a single subject. Avoid jargon.
  • State your reason for writing in the first paragraph; explain that you are a UC alumnus or volunteer (or both!) and provide any other relevant information. If you are a constituent of the elected official, mention it.
  • In the second paragraph, discuss the issue and its importance to UC. Cite relevant facts. Try to discuss the issue from a personal point of view, and also link it to the elected official's local, state or national perspective.
  • In your closing, respectfully ask for a specific action or support. Thank the official for considering your views.
  • Include your name and contact information.
  • Traditional correspondence is more easily handled in most elected officials' offices and generally considered more credible. Be sure to allow enough time for security handling before your letter is received.

The correct format for addressing your letter is:

The Honorable [first name][last name]

Followed by (for example):

California State Assembly
State Capitol
Sacramento, CA 95814
Dear Assembly member [last name]

U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, D.C. 20515
Dear Representative [last name]:

California State Senate
State Capitol
Sacramento, CA 95814
Dear Senator [last name]:

U.S. Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510
Dear Senator [last name]

Important Dates

April 19 Graduate Research Day
May 14 May Budget Revise