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Congressional Visits Day 2012 Report

Congressional Visits Day 2012 Report

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A report about SPI's visit to Capitol Hill and its meetings with congressional offices advocating for sustained federal funding of science research
A report about SPI's visit to Capitol Hill and its meetings with congressional offices advocating for sustained federal funding of science research

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Published by: MIT Science Policy Initiative on Oct 02, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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MIT Science Policy Initiative (SPI)Report on Congressional Visits Day 2012
 Washington DC, April 24-25, 2012
With drastic cuts to science funding looming for the FY 2013 budget, nineteen studentsfrom the MIT Science Policy Initiative (SPI) met with forty-seven congressional offices aspart of Congressional Visits Day (CVD) to advocate for continued federal funding forscience research. The visit came at a crucial time; members of Congress must deliberateover the automatic cuts by sequestration from the Budget Control Act of 2011 by the endof the year. The cuts, which would substantially reduce funding for certain scienceresearch programs, will become law in 2013 unless a new budget is passed. Despite thecontinued uncertainty surrounding the budget and sequestration, congressional memberswere largely responsive to the issues raised by SPI members. Just as importantly, theexperience proved to be an effective opportunity for the young scientists and engineers inSPI to engage with policy makers.CVD is coordinated by the Science-Engineering-Technology Working Group to raise visibility and support for science. Since SPI started participating in CVD in 2006, morethan 75 MIT students have visited Capitol Hill to advocate for science funding anddiscuss their research. SPI has engaged more than 80 members of Congress on scienceand technology policy issues. The primary purpose of SPI’s participation in CVD is toconvey to Congress the importance of our nation’s investment in science, engineering,and technology as a proven driver of long-term innovation and prosperity.For the third year, CVD participants prepared for congressional meetings by attending acommunication workshop with the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS). The goal of the workshop is to develop and hone skills in communicating science, and it proved to be valuable preparation for the actual meetings with congressional offices. Jean Sideris,Senior Outreach Coordinator for UCS, and her colleagues in Cambridge and (remotely)in DC helped train CVD participants to effectively and concisely summarize scientificpoints as well as answer questions.During SPI’s visit to Washington, students received a morning briefing from BillBonvillian and his staff at the MIT Washington Office. Topics ranged from the currentbudget situation and the implications of sequestration to communication strategies withcongressional staffers. It was followed by a AAAS briefing on the current politicallandscape surrounding budgetary issues, including potential effects on science andresearch funding. The AAAS briefing also included a three-person panel of congressionalstaffers from both parties discussing the same issues. Finally, SPI member Sam Brintonshared with the AAAS audience the accomplishments of Stand with Science, a movementstarted last fall by graduate students in SPI seeking to reach Congress about the budgetary
We educate students in the policies governing science research & innovation,explore how science & engineering can inform policy decisions, and facilitatestudents' direct engagement in the science policy arena.
priority of science and research funding. The movement has since gone viral and nowincludes more than 10,000 graduate students from nearly every congressional districtacross the nation.The following day was filled with meetings on the Hill, where students introduced SPI,enumerated the benefits of federally funded science and technology, discussed their ownresearch, and advocated for federal support of science and engineering research.
Thisyear, 19 students visited 47 congressional offices from both chambers andparties and from 17 different states.
By comparison, 20 students visited 34congressional offices in 2011, and 15 students visited 20 offices in 2010. The scale of ourparticipation in CVD is growing considerably, which reflects SPI’s growth as anorganization in terms of its motivation and efficiency as well as its size.
thanks the
office staff for tremendous support each year:
William B. Bonvillian,
Philip H. Lippel,
 Assistant Director 
Amanda Arnold-
Senior Policy Advisor 
Helen Haislmaier-
 Program Coordinator 
Lisa Miller-
Office Representative
Thanks also to the
for their willingness to provide
participants with aworkshop on Communicating Science.
 Jean Sideris,
Senior Outreach Coordinator 
Suzanne Shaw
 , Director of Communications
Marchant Wentworth,
 Deputy Legislative Director-Climate & Energy Program
is generously funded by:
Dean of the School of Science (Dean Marc Kastner)Richard Locke ( 
Department of Political Science)Dean for Student Life (Dean Chris Colombo)Dean of the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences (Dean DeborahFitzgerald)Graduate Student Life Grant ( 
, Dean Christine Ortiz)Dean of the School of Engineering (Dean Ian Waitz)VP for Research and Associate Provost Claude Canizares
Public Service CenterStudent Activities Office
List of meetings from
Preparation for meetings for congressional offices
materials for congressional offices
Photos from
Students’ reflections on the
Summaries of all congressional meetings

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