Make the Call
Number please? You can call the State House switchboard at 617-722-2000 and ask to be connected to your legislator's office.
If you don't know who your MA state legislators are, you can find out here.
You can also contact your legislators in their district offices. Your legislators' Boston office staff can provide information about location, hours, etc. Legislators who live within or close to Boston may not have a district office.
Tips for Making the Call:
Chances are good that you may speak with your legislator's aide. If you do, be polite and communicate your message as planned.
Aides are the people who handle constituent issues. They can give legislators feedback on "hot button" issues within the district. Making a strong case to a legislative aide can help make UMass Amherst matter to your legislator.
Many legislative staff members are UMass Amherst alumni and can be great resources, and will be happy to hear from you.
Prepare your message before you call. You may want to draft a short script or outline with your talking points highlighted.
Do your homework. If you aren't familiar with your legislator, check out his/her website. You may glean some valuable information to help tailor your message.
Each legislator has a General Court web page with contact and biographical information such as party affiliation, educational background, committee assignments, previous political positions, organization membership, etc.
- Introduce yourself.
- State your name clearly.
- Indicate that you are a constituent who lives in the district.
- Note the purpose of your call.
- Highlight talking points.
Acknowledge his/her past support and request continued support for the University.
Tell your story -- describe your personal connection to the University and why UMass matters to you.
Remember your telephone etiquette.
- Be polite. Acknowledge the difficult choices legislators must make for the FY11 budget.
- Remain calm. Your tone will impact the success of your contact.
- Focus on the positive -- the value of UMass Amherst, and why it should be supported. You are one of many UMass supporters contacting your Representative and/or Senator.
...you are asked a question, and you don't know the answer?
- Admit it. Say, "I don't know," and offer to find out and follow up with the answer.
... you disagree with your legislator?
- Be polite.
- Listen to the points your legislator is making.
- Be open to his/her perspective. You may hear new information and gain insight into his/her position.
- Calmly make your points and avoid an argument.
Remember your purpose is to make contact and note your support for UMass Amherst. You have accomplished that task by making the call and expressing your support.
...you forget what you are going to say?
- Write a short script or outline on the points you want to cover.
- Relax and listen to your legislator.
- Remember this is a conversation -- tell your own story, and respond to your legislator.
...your call waiting beeps in?
- Turn your call waiting off before you make the call, or ignore the call waiting tone.
- To disable call waiting for that one call, press *70 [or 1170 for rotary phones]. Once you hang up, the call waiting signal is automatically restored.
- Interrupting your conversation to answer another call may be perceived as rude.
…his/her call waiting beeps and and s/he takes the call?
- Wait for him/her to return. Be polite and remember that legislators have to multi-task.
- S/he will apologize and you can continue with your points.
...the reception on the cell phone is bad, or the call is dropped.
- Apologize and offer to call back.
- Call from a land line, or call his/her State House office.
- Use another method of contact -- email, letter, etc.
You made the call. Congratulations!
Now you should...Follow up with your legislator(s).
Send a thank you note. Legislators are rarely thanked for their efforts. This simple and gracious act is appreciated and will be remembered. It also gives you an opportunity to make another contact, and sets the groundwork for future contacts.
Tie up loose ends. Did you promise to follow up with information? Make sure you find out, and report back.
Thank you for your UMass Amherst Advocacy.