Can and should our senate participate in lobbying legislators? Isn’t that the job of the union?
Great questions! What the ASCCC has been monitoring in Sacramento is an increased interest by legislators in community colleges. Proof of this increased interest is evident in SB 1440 (Padilla, 2010) about the transfer degrees and SB 1143 (Liu, 2010) about student success. Both of these pieces of legislation created major changes within community colleges, and in the case of SB 1440, the CSU. Efforts to influence these bills were conducted by the Faculty Association for California Community Colleges (FACCC), the Academic Senate, union leaders, and others. Some faculty or senates also participated locally in providing information and education to legislators about the pros and cons of these bills and others under development.
Senates are encouraged to educate, not lobby, legislators at their local area offices or in Sacramento. Faculty members can make visits and calls and send emails to the senators and assembly members who represent the college, providing the legislators with faculty perspectives and positions passed by the state or local academic senate. You are encouraged to join with your union colleagues when making visits or developing materials to send to legislators. The senate and union may not always agree on a bill or topic so it’s best to plan ahead for the meetings and agree on common talking points. The job of advocacy and education is not solely a job for the union. It’s a job for faculty.
The Intersegmental Committee of Academic Senates (ICAS), which has representatives from the UC, CSU and CCC Academic Senates, recommends that faculty from all three segments join together in advocacy and education of legislators. The common message for faculty of these groups is the value of higher education for the citizenry, the role of higher education in economic recovery for the state, and the dependence of all our students on robust, accessible education at all institutions of public higher education. Materials are available online to support faculty in these endeavors at http:/ /icas-ca.org/ advocacy-materials, and more materials are scheduled to be added this year. ICAS thanks FACCC for the excellent resources that suggest best practices for a successful visit to a legislative office. Check out FACCC’s website for more information about advocacy too, http://www.faccc.org/.