Behind every federal government dollar granted to Georgetown is an array of staff and student lobbyists engaged in an ongoing dialogue with Capitol Hill.

The majority of the Office of Federal Relations’ lobbying efforts are directly linked to the financial interests of the university and its students: petitions for more federal aid, letters urging continued funding for the Scholarships for Education and Economic Development Program and statements challenging proposed cuts to foreign language education.

“We focus on issues related to the university,” Associate Vice President for Federal Relations Scott Fleming said. “We don’t randomly take a stance on non-issues.”

But in recent years, Georgetown has extended its efforts beyond issues of financial aid and education funding to support a variety of social justice causes.

Fleming and his two-person lobbying specialist team head the efforts while maintaining the university’s official relationships with Congress; faculty, staff and University President John J. DeGioia have all given testimonies to add to the university’s voice.

Most recently, Georgetown became a vocal supporter of the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act.

“President DeGioia has been very engaged in supporting the DREAM Act,” Fleming said, noting that the president is often the university’s most recognizable lobbyist.

Lobbying initiatives often originate in the President’s office, but the Office of Federal Relations is always heavily involved in developing the university’s official stance.

“We work closely with the president’s office to see how we want to position letters and testimony,” Fleming said. “But as soon as we’ve crafted our policy and gotten the necessary sign-off [from President DeGioia or another official], that signature defines our position.”

Fleming stressed that Georgetown’s location in Washington places it in a unique position to influence federal politics, despite the lack of congressional representation for residents of the District.

“We work closely with people on Capitol Hill who might want real live beings who receive student aid to help tell their story. They’re much more accessible than students based in members’ constituencies,” he said.

The strong presence of Georgetown alumni and faculty in the Capitol, which includes 13 House members and six senators, bolsters its lobbying position, according to Fleming.

“They’re representing other constituencies … [but] they tend to be pretty open to hearing our perspectives. They’re cognizant of the fact that they represent people living in the District who can also vote in their constituencies, and they play a constructive role [in our lobbying efforts],” Fleming said.

The Office of Federal Relations also hopes to support political involvement on campus.

Fleming currently advises the Georgetown University Legislative Advocates, a student group that seeks to increase student involvement in the democratic process, by teaching the essentials of lobbying.

“Lobbying is a great educational experience,” Fleming said. “It creates an opportunity for students to understand … how to access government.”

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