In mid-March 2017, the Trump Administration released its proposed budget for FY 2018, which includes significant cuts to many agencies that fund graduate student research in STEM fields. As students and supporters of university science research, we see a need to Stand with Science to ensure lawmakers understand why federal funding of science research matters.
Contact your representatives – both in the House and Senate – and express your desire to preserve federal funding for university research. Inform them of the impact federal funding has had on you and your research, and why it is important. Use the prompts below, or just share your personal story.
Get in Touch
The most effective means of communication with your representatives is in person. You can request to schedule a meeting with your Senator or House Member via their website, or with anyone working on the Hill.
If you can’t make it to DC, phone calls and emails are great too. Phone calls are personal, immediate, and give you a chance to talk directly with your Congressperson’s staff. Emails are instantaneous, easy to count, and easy to respond to. If sent through a Senator or Representative’s website, emails are automatically sorted to the issue experts within a Congressional office. Best of all, emails can be personal way to get in touch.
Not sure who you should be in contact with? Find your Senators and Representative. Get in touch with those who represent the district/state where you’re registered to vote instead of (or in addition to) where you attend university. If you’re not registered to vote, you can do that here. And if you’re ineligible to vote (an international student, for example) you still count! All constituents – everyone who lives in a district – have a powerful voice.
What To Say
Don’t forget the ask
A beautifully worded email is, unfortunately, worthless if it doesn’t include a request. Want to maintain funding levels for NSF across the board? Say so. Want to preserve funding for a specific program? Tell them that.
Be specific. Saying please support federal funding of science is good, saying I support maintaining or increasing the appropriation levels from FY17 to FY18 for the NSF and NIH, as well as the NASA, DOE, DOD and other university research programs is better.
Be brief. A three paragraph email is more likely to be read than a three page email.
Explain why it matters to you
State where your research funding comes from. Explain why that funding is crucial. (Does it underwrite your tuition? Your research materials? Your rent through your stipend?)
Tell them why your research is important. Something got you excited about that field; share that passion.
Explain why it should matter to them
Does your research save lives? Can your research create jobs? Will it reinvigorate an economic sector, or increase US competitiveness in the global market?
This could include facts – about the impact university R&D has on the overall economy, about the positive effects of this research in their district, or about the historical importance of federal funding for science, scientists, and research.
If you’re a voter in their District/State, make sure to mention it here! Members are more heavily influenced by the people they represent.
Still unsure what to say? Try these prompts…
- I am a graduate student researching …
- I am emailing to request that you support federal funding for science by maintaining or increasing the appropriations level from FY17 to FY18. / Please advocate for continued research funding at the graduate level from [Agency].
- My research is funded in part (or entirely) by …
- Without this funding, I would not be able to …
- My research has impacts across the country. It provides …
Why This? Why Now?
The federal appropriations process is a long one, and the President’s budget is only step one. Nonetheless, advocating for science and research funding can never happen too soon. It is important to make sure your members know why funding science is crucial now, especially those with appropriations responsibilities. Science needs our support at every step of the budget process.
This campaign echoes the very first campaign Stand with Science created, and that’s intentional. We exist to advocate on behalf of science and scientists, and there is no better way to do that than to show our support for the funding that underlies everything student scientists and researchers can accomplish. As we move forward, other actions will come to light, but supporting our funding sources will always be one of them.
Coming Up Next…
Stand with Science is a part of the National Science Policy Group, members of which will be on the Hill advocating for science and scientists in early April. We want to make sure we can accurately express how many students support these funding requests and where they are from. Please fill out this form to get involved in advocating for science even if you haven’t yet written to your Senators or Representatives.