On April 7-8th, more than 350 dental students will converge on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. to advocate on behalf of our organization’s 20,000 members as a part of ASDA’s National Dental Student Lobby Day. This two-day legislative event provides dental students with an amazing opportunity to meet face-to-face with our federal legislators. It is our chance as a student organization to have our voices heard on issues that impact the future of the dental profession. ASDA’s annual National Dental Student Lobby Day has the power to enact change, but if we can motivate our readers with one take-home message it is this: ASDA needs your voice!
Not attending National Dental Student Lobby Day? No problem. The reason ASDA’s message is so powerful at Lobby Day, is due to the strength of our membership and our unified front. We understand that not all members of ASDA have the opportunity to attend the Lobby Day events, but there are other ways to become involved with ASDA’s legislative efforts. And the best part is you can start right now.
The easiest way to make your voice heard is to participate in ASDA’s Engage action alert system. Engage provides you with a template of information to send onto Washington, and even sends the message to the correct Representatives and Senators based on demographic information entered by the student. It is like a stack of letters prepared with addresses and stamps awaiting the go-ahead signatures of the dental student. Hold-up, wait a minute, we haven’t even reached the best part! Sending letters to legislators with Engage is not only easy, it’s fast; the entire process takes less than 5 minutes to complete and the impacts can be monumental. Motivated yet? Visit Engage to have your voice heard on the same issues that are being lobbied at ASDA’s National Lobby Day: S. 1066 Federal Student Loan Refinancing Act; H.R. 1527 Student, Loan Interest Deduction Act of 2013, and S. 466/H.R. 963 Coordination of Pro Bono Medically Recommended Dental Care Act.
Ok, so you’ve signed on to the Engage system and sent your opinion to federal legislators, now what? Well I am glad you asked, because ASDA has a plethora of resources available to its members on how to increase their legislative involvement. The first step is to visit ASDA’s website. You’ll find resources focused on getting involved and having an impact on the future of the dental profession. ASDA’s Council on Advocacy has worked over the past year to produce some top-notch resources to assist chapters in increasing their advocacy efforts. Two new resources of note are the ‘Promote Chapter Advocacy’ how-to-guide, and ASDA’s Legislative Pamphlet. The how-to-guide is a comprehensive resource aimed at helping chapters increase advocacy efforts with guidelines on organizing lunch & learns, advocacy academies, state lobby says, hosting a legislator and organizing ADPAC events. Use the Promote Chapter Advocacy how-to-guide at your chapter this year. Need more? Look no further than ASDA’s Legislative Pamphlet, an informative brochure for legislative meetings, aimed at providing legislators with information about our organization and our mission. Take this PDF to a local printer (or online) to have copies printed for your own state lobby day or other legislative events.
I sincerely hope that this article has helped to quench your desire for all things ASDA advocacy. If you have any additional comments, questions or concerns on how to become involved, please feel free to direct them to ASDAadvocacy@ASDAnet.org and we will do our best to help you make a difference in the future of our profession!
~ Andrew Welles, Marquette ’15, legislative coordinator, Districts 6&7