Grassroots database shows
Emory's stake in government
As part of its continuing effort to enhance Emory's public involvement
at all levels, the Office of Governmental and Community Affairs has established
a database that will better enable it to communicate the University's interest
in the legislative work of both the state and federal governments.
The grassroots advocacy database breaks down all Emory constituents via
Geographic Information System software into zip codes, which are displayed
on congressional and Georgia Legislature district maps.
"We want to put forward a comprehensive government affairs plan
that fosters government support and understanding of University goals and
objectives," said Steve Moye, associate vice president of governmental
and community affairs. Moye noted the "four-legged stool" of public
involvement, which includes governmental affairs, political action, community
relations and communications. The grassroots database can help in all of
Moye said the initiative was already underway but intensified following
congressional negotiations last summer over the balanced-budget act. A number
of issues in the debate directly affected Emory constituents, including
the taxing of graduate student subsidies, taxing of Emory's courtesy scholarship
benefits and issues affecting TIAA-CREF retirement plans.
The database allows Moye's office to demonstrate Emory's vital interest
in each of these issues. The categories are broken down by division and
job description. The database also lists the number of students in the different
districts on both federal and state financial aid. For example, Speaker
of the House Newt Gingrich may be able to rightfully claim that the main
campus itself is not in his district, but the database shows there are two
affiliate hospitals, five clinics, 261 Clinic staff, 133 Emory doctors,
385 Emory staff, 181 students on federal aid and other Emory constituents
in the speaker's district.
"It completely changes their perception of Emory," Moye said.
"And we can then be used as a resource. So when Speaker Gingrich comes
up with an issue or a bill that deals with health care, he can automatically
think, 'Well, I need to talk to Emory about this.'"
Legistlative Analyst Jeremy Berry and Legislative Assistant An'del Jones-Foster
spent much of the past six months assembling vast amounts of data and putting
it together into a comprehensive, readable format. Their work is largely
done, Berry said, although there are possible plans to combine it with the
database developed by Community Relations Director Betty Willis that will
list community service projects in which Emory faculty, staff and students
"We think we have everything we need in place, but if we find out
we don't, the system is so flexible that we can change it," Berry said.
Not only can the numbers be used to simply show how many Emory constituents
are in a given politician's district, but the office can contact those people
to rally them to action over an issue. Moye said his office doesn't have
the budget to do mass mailings, but he is trying to add e-mail addresses
The upcoming session of the Georgia Legislature, Moye said, as well as
the reconvening of Congress will allow his office to put the new resource
to use. "Because of the climate in Washington, you always have to be
ready. The outlook for higher education when the 104th Congress came in
a couple years ago was brutal. They were basically pitting humanities research
against basic research, which was pitted against financial aid. You just
don't know what's going to come up.
"You want this [database] to be your last resort. To speak in military
terms, you don't want to have to call on these troops, but if you have to,
to December 8, 1997 Contents Page