International Educator - January/February 2013 - 8
Building relationships with key university administrators and faculty on campus is essential to any successful advocacy plan. Here are some tips:
FEDERAL RELATIONS OFFICE:
Introduce yourself, find out the issues that are a focus of your federal relations colleague. You may be surprised at how knowledgeable they are on a particular issue. Share proposed rulemaking on immigration topics with them and discuss the impact on your institution.
camera or on the telephone. It can more frequently be a list of submitted questions to which you can respond without the pressure of having someone in front of you, giving you only one chance to get it right.
M E DI A R E L AT I O N S /CO M M UNICATIO NS OFFICE:
Know the policies at your institution for speaking with the media. Know what issue may be considered sensitive. Discuss what you will say with your institution’s media relations staff, or invite them to sit in on the interview. Your media office may ask you to respond to requests for information from outside media. Remember that not all media interviews are done in front of a
Be sure that your supervisor knows what you are doing. The hope is that these key colleagues and leaders on campus will, over time, help to carry to other campus influencers and beyond the campus to news media and policy makers key messages about what’s at stake for U.S. higher education when it comes to immigration reform. Let’s address ways you might talk about immigration reform issues with your federal and media relations offices. Why not start with inviting someone to be your guest for lunch? Depending upon where you are in your institutional hierarchy, you may be seen as a natural spokesperson on this issue. For example, my areas of interest include the following:
the criteria for F-1 visa applicants; n■ increasing the opportunities for work authorization for spouses among the various dependent visa classifications; n■ undocumented students because New York State is one of only a dozen or so states that allow such students to be considered for in-state tuition if they meet certain requirements; and n■ advocating for the passage of a federal marriage equality act so that married couples of the same gender can finally have their marriages recognized at the federal level, especially in the immigration context. What information and knowledge can the federal relations person share with me on these topics to make me more knowledgeable? What information might I share on legislation? Consider inviting him or her to attend NAFSA Advocacy Day with you, go together to congressional appointments, let him or her know when you are submitting comments for notices of proposed rulemaking, and ask them to provide assistance with federal contacts. Many of us view advocacy on immigration issues as a natural extension of our role as an advocate for international students and scholars on campus. Consider taking your advocacy to the next level by following one or more of the suggestions in this article, and be a part of the effort to make U.S. immigration laws not only more fair and transparent, but to help make our nation better. IE
ELLEN H. BADGER is the director of international student and scholar services at Binghamton University, State University of New York. She has previously served two terms on the NAFSA Board of Directors, and is the 2012 recipient of NAFSA’s Marita Houlihan Award for Distinguished Contributions to the Field of International Education.
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This article is based on the April 2012 NAFSA teleconference “Why You, and All of Higher Education, Should Care About Immigration Reform, ” (www.nafsa.org/immigrationteleconference) which featured the author, as well as Heather Stewart and Kari Lantos of NAFSA’s public policy department. The author thanks NAFSA for permission to use the materials from the teleconference for this article.