University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee

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Tips for contacting your elected officials
Writing your elected officials
  • Be sure to date mail. Also include your name, address and telephone number on the letter and envelope.
  • Be brief and to the point. Write one page with a short opening and two to three paragraphs on the subject.
  • Be friendly.
  • Be issue-focused. Discuss only one issue per letter.
  • Be candid and personal. Use your own words, avoiding form letters. Be sure to include your own thoughts on the issue.
  • Be certain about documentation. Include details pertinent to the issue.
  • Be appreciative. Out of the nearly 5 million Wisconsinites, only 132 become elected officials to the Assembly (99) and Senate (33).
  • Be solicitous of a reply. Ask, "Will you support higher education? I look forward to hearing your response.”
  • Be informative to the Panther Advocates staff. Call us at 414-906-4665 or e-mail us at alumni@uwm.edu. We track the communication network to monitor the efforts of our members.
  • Be proactive. Put a date on your calendar for an anticipated reply. You may need to write the legislator again.
  • Use personalized stationery. (Government or university employees are legally prohibited from using stationery printed at state expense for personal purposes)

Addressing your elected officials
  • State Representative

The Honorable...................
Wisconsin Assembly
P. O. Box 8952 [or 8953]*
Madison, WI 53708

* Note: P.O. BOX is 8952 for reps. whose last names start with A-L, P.O. Box 8953 is for last names M-Z.


  • Governor

The Honorable James Doyle
Office of the Governor
115 East State Capitol
Madison, WI 53702

  • State Senator

The Honorable...................
Wisconsin State Senate
State Capitol
P. O. Box 8953
Madison, WI 53708

Dear Rep. Smith,

I’m a University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee alum and one of your constituents, and I’m extremely proud of our university.

That’s why I’m writing you to urge your continued support of UWM as you and other members of the state Legislature continue your work on the (fill in the issue).

I know you’ll be facing tough decisions in the weeks and months ahead as you work on this issue. And, as do all Wisconsin residents, I want to see my taxes stay as low as possible. But I also want to see UWM continue to attract and retain the best faculty members, rather than cut staff. Research being conducted at UWM attracts a large number of federal research dollars, private gifts and grants. That helps bring new companies and new jobs to southeastern Wisconsin, providing a strong financial boost to the area.

Thank you for whatever positive actions you can take on behalf of UWM.

Sincerely,

Jane Doe
Street address
City, WI 53223


Thank-you noteAfter you receive an e-mail from or speak or visit with your state representative or senator, please remember to be courteous and send them a thank-you note.

SAMPLE
Month, day, year

The Honorable [representative/senator/governor’s first and last name]
Address
P.O. Box ____ *
[office address]
Madison, WI Zip

Dear Representative/Senator/Governor __________,

I appreciate you taking the time to (meet with me) (date) (respond to my letter/e-mail), and for listening to (acknowledging) what I had to say about higher education funding.

I realize that the state of Wisconsin is facing some difficult budget decisions, but I truly believe that any decision to cut higher education funding, particularly UWM’s, would be contrary to the best long-term interest of our state.

Thank you,

Your name

* Note: P.O. BOX is 8952 for reps. whose last names start with A-L, P.O. Box 8953 is for last names M-Z.

Phone calls
A phone call is an effective and convenient way to speak to a legislator directly. Here are a few tips for communicating your issues by phone:
  • Identify yourself and ask to speak to a legislator directly. Please be aware that you may not be able to speak with the legislator on your initial call. Most incoming calls are received by legislative aides or the legislator's administrative assistant.
  • State your support for the university and how it affects you personally. If you are calling about a particular piece of legislation, be prepared to provide the bill number, title, and subject matter.
  • Respectfully request the legislator's support on the issue and a response stating his/her position.
  • Be issue-focused. Keep it short and to the point, summarizing key points.
  • Listen politely. If a legislator disagrees with you, don't argue. Be prepared, however, to politely restate your position.
  • If the legislator asks questions you are not prepared to answer, express to the legislator your willingness to get more information and refer the questions to the Panther Advocates staff at 414-906-4665.
  • If your legislator is not available, state your name, address, and telephone number, the reason for your call, and request a response.
  • Once you have had a phone conversation with the legislator, send a follow-up note restating the university's position and thanking them for his/her consideration.
  • Report back to the Panther Advocates staff on your phone call by completing the contact report form or contacting staff. This information will help the staff keep track of the Panther Advocates’ progress and about the position of your legislator on the issue you raised.
Personal visits to your elected officials
Another effective way of getting your message across is to personally visit your state representatives. Most members of the state Legislature return home on the weekends. Take time to call or visit them and talk about the session events. If they have introduced legislation, show an interest in their efforts.

In order to maximize your effectiveness, we can help you pinpoint the issues you wish to discuss with your representative. Call us at 414-906-4665 or e-mail us at advocates@uwm.edu.


Preparation for the visit Here are some suggested steps to take before, during and after a meeting with a legislator or a legislator’s staff.
  • Prepare for the meeting. Check the Panther Advocates Web site for the latest Action Updates and Issue Descriptions.
  • Do not be nervous or intimidated. Remember two things: 1) You are a taxpayer and a voter in the legislator’s home district and elected officials work for you; and 2) You are active in promoting higher education and can be confident in the information that you have to offer.
  • Be respectful. The legislator holds an important office and deserves your respect.
  • Be concise. Stick to the issue you want to discuss and do not get technical.
  • Remember that all politics are local. If you can illustrate a point by giving an example in your home district, or how higher education has had a positive impact on you or your family, use it.
  • Do not argue. If the legislator disagrees with you, state your views, and listen politely to the opposing position. Thank the legislator for his or her time, saying that you hope to work together on another issue in the future.
  • Do not overstay your welcome. A meeting usually lasts 15 minutes and no longer than 30 minutes. The length of the meeting is dictated by the legislator’s schedule and interest. As a result, be sure to budget time so that you can ask the questions you want or request the action that you want the legislator to take.
  • Leave a handwritten note. If you miss your legislator, or he/she is unable to meet with you because of a last-minute vote, be sure to leave a personal note. State legislators' administrators and assistants at the State Capitol will be sure that your note is delivered. Briefly describe your higher education issue and thank them for their support. Always include your home address so they will know that you are from their district.