(Alexis Glenn/Creative Services)

(Alexis Grenn/Creative Services)

“Democracy is messy, it’s noisy, it’s complex. But in a very deep way, it’s amazing,” said President Angel Cabrera to a group of Mason students who travelled down to Richmond for Mason’s first lobbying day. “You’re going to be a part of the process today.”

The students, who traded in their T-shirts for blazers for the day, spent Feb. 7 talking to Virginia state delegates and sena- tors to off er a personal touch to the statistics lawmakers consider when doling out state funds to universities.

“Th is is the best possible way of telling folks what’s happening at our beloved university,” said delegate David Ramadan (87th district).

Mason Lobbies is a new initiative put together by the student government to allow students, alumni and faculty to share what they love about Mason.

I think they get tired of seeing the admin-istrators and presi-dents, but they love seeing students; so, it’s really important that you’re here to- day because you tell the George Mason story best -Laura Fornash, Secretary of Education

Forty-three current students and 15 alumni, along with a bevy of faculty from offices across campus, showed up to represent the university.

“Today is so important for you to be with legislators and tell them about the experience you’re having at George Mason University,” said Secretary of Education Laura Fornash. “They’re very focused on providing additional funding for higher education – that has been a tremendous priority of the governor. He’s focused on greater access and affordability. He wants to make sure that you graduate with a degree that will get you a job and that you’re not going to be in a tremendous amount of debt when you graduate.”

Though Mason has sent representatives to lobby in Richmond before, this was the first year registration was open to all.

Students and alumni were divided into groups based loosely on their hometowns to speak to local politicians.

(Alexis Glenn/Creative Services)

(Alexis Grenn/Creative Services)

Cabrera, who noted how impressed he was with the well-dressed student lobbyists, started the day with introductory speeches from prolific Mason faculty and alumni, many of whom now serve in the state capitol, includ- ing Deputy Chief of Staff Matt Conrad and delegate David Ramadan.

Ramadan, who previously served on the Mason Board of Visitors, was sporting Mason spirit wear that he vowed to wear on the floor of the House for the rest of the day.

Ramadan emigrated from Lebanon to the U.S. when he was 19 years old with only $2,000 in his pocket.

He went on to earn two degrees from Mason and become a successful businessman and politician.

“I credit Mason to most and everything I achieved,” Ramadan said. “[Mason] gave me a base, gave me a home.”

The group was joined by Governor Bob McDonnell (R) on the stairs of the capitol for a photo and spoke briefly about his excitement and pride for Mason.

“Th is is such an exciting opportunity for you and such an exciting opportunity for legislators,” Fornash said. “I think they get tired of seeing the administrators and the presidents, but they love seeing students; so, it’s really important that you’re here today because you tell the George Mason story best.”

Fornash said she has had a special place in her heart for the university after her grand- mother returned to school late in life and received her degree from Mason.