Mason Lobbies promotes students as ‘part of a bigger picture’


Dozens of George Mason University students are gearing up for the 10th annual Mason Lobbies on Thursday, Feb. 3, when they will meet virtually and discuss legislative issues important to Mason with lawmakers from across the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Mason Lobbies recognizes that students are “part of a bigger picture, and it sheds important light on student challenges,” said Steven Zhou, president of Mason’s Graduate and Professional Student Association (GAPSA) and a PhD student in Mason’s Industrial-Organizational Psychology program.

Previously, Mason Lobbies was primarily led by Mason’s undergraduate students in Student Government. This year, however, Student Government collaborated with GAPSA to include graduate students in the event.

Getting more graduate students in front of legislators is important in emphasizing Mason’s great research and advocating for aspects specific to graduate student life, including funding for research and teaching, Zhou said.

Other topics of discussion will include increasing financial aid and increasing faculty and staff compensation, said Sara Heming, associate director of student organizations in Mason’s Office of Student Involvement.

The event will take place virtually to allow attendees and state legislators to interact safely. Instead of being broken into groups, attendees will meet with legislators and speakers all together through Zoom, though Heming said final details are still to be worked out.

“For students, it is an opportunity to share their Mason story and what they are passionate about. For legislators, it is to listen and learn where they can be helpful,” Heming said, adding that involvement in this event has also led some students to career opportunities and a professional network.

While training, facilitated by members of Student Government working with Mason’s State Government Relations team, is required for all attendees before the event as guidance about discussion topics, attendees are free to share anything about their experiences as members of the Mason community, Zhou said.

“Especially from a graduate student perspective, the reputation of the university is quite important,” particularly for future career opportunities, Zhou said.

Mason’s celebration of its upcoming 50th anniversary in April will also be highlighted.

“Having the state legislators recognize the institution and all its progress and success in its tenure is important,” Heming said. “Mason is a special place affording many people a great education, and that’s something to be proud of.”

The deadline to participate in Mason Lobbies or promote specific lobbying initiatives to Student Government is open to all undergraduate and graduate students, faculty, staff, and alumni until Jan. 27. Use this form to apply.

“It’s really cool to see students making an impact in state-level decisions that could directly impact the entire university,” Zhou said.