Editor's Note: This story was written by George Mason University student Zach Eisenstein.
As she marched down the steps of the state capitol toward her charter bus, Savannah Edwards smiled to herself, satisfied, after months of planning and organizing had finally paid off.
At 6:15 a.m. on Feb. 7, 43 Mason students and 15 alumni headed to Richmond for the Student Government event, “Mason Lobbies 2013.” The trip’s aim was to lobby for George Mason University by establishing personal connections between students and legislators.
“Our main goal was to have a greater presence for the Mason student body represented in the Virginia legislature,” said Edwards, a junior government major and secretary of Mason Alumni Affairs, State Outreach, and Networking.
The day began with an introductory meeting led by Edwards and speakers included Mason alumni now serving as delegates, the Virginia Secretary of Education, Laura Fornash, and GMU President Àngel Carbrera.
“It’s important for our school to get the attention it deserves and to be noticed for its exceptional value,” Edwards added. “With our visit to the capital, I think we did just that.”
“Our goal for today was not to leave Richmond with a check in hand, but rather to establish our presence and put a face to the name ‘George Mason University,’” said William Wildman, a freshman government major.
“We had student government students, non-student-government students, forensics team members, student media personnel—everyone came together for this and that is where the true investment is,” said Alex Williams, a senior government major and president of GMU’s Student Government.
Following introductions, students split into small groups to meet personally with delegates and share their individual Mason stories and experiences.
“This gave us the opportunity to demonstrate a Mason presence,” Williams said. “It allowed us to meet with our elected officials and gave those elected officials the chance to meet with us.”
After an hour of small group meetings with Virginia legislators, participants congregated on the steps outside of the Capital building to take a group photograph with Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell.
“Seeing so many students willing to spend the whole day in Richmond was great,” Williams said. “There’s always the stereotype that college students are apathetic, but we managed to get 60 people to sign up and come out with us.”
After a brief lunch at 12:30 p.m., students boarded their buses at 1:15 to head back to Fairfax after a successful day of lobbying.
“We started planning this event shortly after the fall semester began in September,” Edwards said on the ride home. “This was the first time GMU made its presence known by bringing students to the capital, and I guarantee it won’t be the last.”