Advocacy Resource Center

Welcome to the WCU Advocacy Resource Center!  This Advocacy Resource Center provides West Chester University (WCU) faculty and staff members and students with the tools needed to advocate effectively on behalf of the University and become established as resources for public officials and policy makers.

The Center supports University members’ advocacy engagement at the local, regional, state, and national levels.  Resources include how to prepare for meeting with legislators, the ability to learn how to participate in the PASSHE Advocacy Campaign, and access to the WCU engagement policy and other resources to support the University’s agenda.

In particular, engaging with public officials on behalf of the University is a primary function for which the Office of External Relations (OER) is organized and operates.  As such, all efforts to engage with public officials and/or their office staff as representatives of the University, on and off campus, should be done in cooperation with the OER through a notification process that ensures knowledge of relevant supervisors, the Vice President for University Advancement and External Affairs, and as appropriate, the Office of the President.  The Public Official Engagement Policy outlines this process.


The OER works to inform and guide the advocacy of the University’s leadership, faculty, and students on institutional, divisional, and/or departmental priorities.  Advocacy work includes though is not limited to the following:

  • Coordinating and stewarding the institutional advocacy agenda, supporting the institutional strategic goals and grounded in the President’s/Cabinet’s institutional vision
  • Working with the faculty, students, and staff to help inform and guide their advocacy in their respective areas consistent with the institutional mission, strategic plan, and priorities
  • Providing guidance and supporting students’ self-advocacy on key issues
  • Supporting faculty members’ providing testimony to government entities

Advocacy Versus Lobbying

Lobbying and advocacy are two methods of engaging with elected officials to influence decisions related to government legislation, regulations, and programs.

  • Advocacy: Every citizen has the right to express one’s thoughts and opinions to the government. This form of advocacy aims to educate government officials about issues, enabling them to make more informed decisions in their legislative or executive roles.
  • Lobbying: Lobbying is a specific type of advocacy that involves a direct appeal to government officials for favorable consideration of an issue or program that would financially benefit the petitioner. Lobbying typically is conducted by a third-party individual who is hired to make the case for or against support of a bill or policy, leveraging that person’s relationships to influence the outcome.

Advocacy is not subject to government rules, while lobbying is. Government rules and regulations regarding lobbying apply to both public officials and the individuals and organizations engaging in lobbying activities. WCU representatives ought to engage in advocacy only.

Preparing for Meeting with Legislators

The following information provides guidance toward preparing to meet with legislators accurately and effectively.  In particular, the University works in coordination with the PASSHE Office of the Chancellor to support its annual PASSHE Advocacy Campaign; it is an invaluable opportunity to support WCU and PASSHE!

Requesting a Meeting 

  • Find contact information for Pennsylvania legislators online: visit Find Your Legislator
  • Contact legislators to schedule an in person or virtual meeting. Before you request a virtual meeting, make sure you have access to a virtual meeting platform (i.e., Microsoft Teams, Zoom) and are comfortable navigating it.  A sample script is provided below: 
    • My name is (name) and I am a faculty or staff member/student from West Chester University. May I please speak to the scheduler? I (we) would appreciate thirty (30) minutes to discuss (key topic). These are the names of the people attending the meeting (as applicable) ___________________. Thank you for checking the (representative’s/senator’s schedule). You can reach me at (telephone number or email address).
  • Write down the scheduler’s name. Be sure to get the correct spelling. Make every effort to get a meeting with the legislator; however, some circumstances will only allow you to meet with their staff. Always leave your name and phone number. You may have to contact the office more than once to confirm an appointment. Be persistent and proactive.
  • Once a meeting date/time is confirmed, offer to host the meeting; recognize that the legislator’s office might have a preferred platform that you will need to use.
  • Inform your team once you have scheduled the meeting, as applicable.

Preparing for the Meeting 

  • If you are unfamiliar with the virtual platform, practice. Test your Internet connection and/or phone signal by video chatting with a family member or friend.
  • Review the legislator’s profile with which you are speaking and note the legislative committees on which the member serves.
  • Make sure your background is not distracting.  You may choose to add a West Chester University virtual background.
  • Before the meeting begins, silence your cell phone, and place it out of view.
  • If you live with others, notify them to give you privacy within the timeframe of your meeting.
  • Prepare your message. Write down what you want to say to stay on message. Review talking points.
  • Make your points clear, and explain the impact upon the legislator’s district and constituents as well as the region, state, and nation, as applicable.
  • When possible, provide a personal perspective, sharing your own experience or that of a family member or friend.
  • If multiple advocates plan to join the call, assign a leader who will open and close the meeting and keep things running on time.

During the Meeting 

  • Refer to state and national legislators as Representative, if he or she is a member of the House of Representatives, or Senator, if the legislator is a member of the Senate.
  • Always treat legislators with respect, even if there is disagreement.
  • Engage the legislator/staff member by sharing your experiences/stories and asking questions. The more genuine you are, the more the legislator/staff member is likely to identify with what you have to say.
  • Leave time for questions from the legislator and/or staff member.

After the Meeting 

  • Write down as much as you remember. Was the legislator supportive? Was follow-up requested?
  • Share how your meeting(s) went with the appropriate institutional contacts.
  • Send a thank you email to your legislator(s) and/or staff member(s); include a copy of leave-behind documentation to serve as a future resource. Sending succinct, handwritten notes is preferred and greatly appreciated.

Sample Legislative Meeting Outline

Introduction (3 minutes) 

  • Introduce yourself and how you are affiliated with West Chester University.
  • Explain the reason for the meeting and identify yourself as a constituent, if applicable.

Tell Your Story 

  • Discuss key points reflective of the purpose of your meeting from your faculty or staff member or student perspective. 
  • Ensure including personal experience and stories as well as potential impact within the legislator’s geographic area served.

The Ask (5 minutes) 

  • Make an ask that is clear and concise.
  • Be sure that the ask is actionable and any applicable deadline/time sensitivity known.
  • Provide strong reasoning to support your call for action, and indicate potential negative/positive impact based upon the request.

Closing (1 minute) 

  • Thank the legislator(s)/staff member(s) for their time. 
  • Provide any leave behind documents, as applicable.
  • Ask if they would like any additional information.