Students visit Richmond to advocate for Mason at annual Mason Lobbies event


More than 70 George Mason University students traveled to Richmond on Thursday, Feb. 15, to advocate for Mason’s legislative priorities during Mason Lobbies.

Del Seibold and students
Mason students Charlotte Bell (left) and Adila Aghayeva (right) visited Delegate Holly Seibold (D-12). Photo provided

The eager group was welcomed to the General Assembly by Mason President Gregory Washington and Mason alumni—Majority Leader Charniele Herring (D-4), BA Economics ’93, and Senator Jeremy McPike (D-29), BA Government and Politics ’97.

Sporting their trademark green and gold scarves and filled with Patriot Pride, students dispersed through the legislative offices prepared to discuss their agenda items with lawmakers and their staff.

Mason Lobbies is an opportunity for students to use their voice to improve our university and learn about the Virginia legislative process,” said Adila Aghayeva, a first-year student from Azerbaijan studying government and international politics. 

The primary ask was for an additional $18 million to address historical underfunding concerning appropriations aid for undergraduate students, echoing the State Council of Higher Education of Virginia’s recommendation.

Mason Lobbies
From left Mason student Honestie Kern, Delegate Patrick Hope, and Mason students Isabela Vieira and Griffin Crouch met during annual Mason Lobbies event. Photo provided

Other agenda items included additional funding for the Virginia Military Survivors and Dependent Education Program, increased funding for Mason’s 26 Small Business Development Centers serving the commonwealth, capital investment for the proposed Student Innovation Factory on the Fairfax Campus and Life Sciences and Engineering Building at Mason’s SciTech Campus, and maintenance reserve support funding.

Charlotte Bell, a first-year student studying government and international politics, visited Delegate Holly Seibold (D-12). Bell shared the insights she gained from participating in the lobbying campaign. “Lawmakers are working on many different bills and resolutions simultaneously, just like Mason’s Student Government. They’re also very open to listening to our voices and opinions.”

Legislators said they value the opportunity to meet with constituents.

As lawmakers, we need to hear from you,” Seibold said. “We need to know what’s important to you and how our work impacts your life. These visits are very critical to our work.”

Student Government Vice President Nell Palumbo, a junior government and international politics major, helped plan last year’s Mason Lobbies. “Mason is extremely valuable to the commonwealth, and legislators know we are underfunded,” she said. “After having many great conversations with legislators, I think we are making actual progress toward closing the funding gap for Mason. Every year we get a little bit closer to our goal. I’m proud to be part of that change.”

Zayd Hamid, a senior studying public administration who is pursuing an accelerated master of public policy degree, said he believes students have a role in advocating for Mason. “A great deal of student complaints related to the cost of attendance, building conditions, etc. can be ameliorated through increased support from the commonwealth. Advocating for and ensuring the passage of Mason’s legislative priorities is important to me as a student. Students succeed when the university succeeds.”

Hamid said he encourages more students to get involved with next year’s event. “Help Mason achieve its goals, and it will be in a better position to support you.”