Frustrated by hours of unpaid community work and a lack of graduate training resources? Eager to learn how to advocate for increased government support for internships? If so, plan to attend the National Psychology Graduate Student Rally, to be held on the steps of the U.S. Capitol on Aug. 4, prior to APA's Annual Convention in Washington, D.C.
The rally, scheduled from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., is the focal point of two days of activities to encourage more students to get involved in advocacy for psychology. The activities include an advocacy training session provided by APA's Public Policy Office (PPO) and post-rally visits to Capitol Hill to meet with congressional leaders.
At the rally, psychology leaders, graduate students and faculty will bring attention to the contributions that psychology graduate students make to community health care. They will also call for more funding for psychology graduate students through Federal WorkStudy (FWS), a federally funded program that finances on-campus and off-campus employment for students with financial need.
Traditionally, FWS funds have gone primarily to undergraduates for administrative support in libraries, admissions offices and other facilities. But as of January, FWS can pay for graduate research and off-campus community work that relates to graduate study such as internships and practicums--stages of graduate training that are usually plagued by scarce funding, unpaid work and high debt accumulation.
"We want to make congressional leaders aware of how underfunded we really are," says Chris Loftis, chair of the American Psychological Association of Graduate Students' Advocacy Coordinating Team, which is one of the sponsors of the rally. Other sponsors include the Association of Psychology Postdoctoral and Internship Centers (APPIC) and PPO.
Speakers at the Washington, D.C., rally will include Rep. Ted Strickland (DOhio), APA President-elect Norine G. Johnson, PhD, APA Executive Director for Education Cynthia Belar, PhD, and APPIC Chair Nadine Kaslow, PhD.
Rally coordinators are also seeking students interested in speaking briefly about their service or research contributions.
"We'd like to give recognition to the fact that psychology students are doing something about the problems the country has difficulty addressing--such as homelessness and foster care--through practicum and internship training," says Gilbert Newman, PhD, one of the rally organizers. "People are calling for solutions and we should look at ourselves as a model for providing answers to some of these social issues."
Moreover, this is an important time for psychology graduate students to push for increased FWS funds, says Nina Levitt, EdD, APA's director of education policy. APA's PPO recently helped change FWS legislation so that graduate students can use the money for their research and community work and graduate departments can use the funds to establish internship and practicum sites for graduate students, she says.
The event is inspired by the Psychology Graduate Student Day rally held in April 1999 in San Francisco, which attracted more than 500 graduate students and reaped positive results.
"California state leaders are now talking about the impact of psychology graduate training on community services," says Newman, who is director of field placement at the Wright Institute in Berkeley, Calif. "There is even talk about revising existing laws so training programs can be reimbursed for services performed by students."
On Aug. 3, APA's PPO staff will offer a three-hour student advocacy training session that covers pending legislation relevant to psychology and how to network with local and state leaders. And to prepare students for their meetings with members of Congress after the rally, staff will advise them how to develop "talking points" and otherwise communicate effectively with congressional leaders and give them an opportunity to rehearse through role-playing exercises.
To encourage students to attend the rally and advocacy training, organizers have reserved inexpensive housing for students at two local universities--George Washington University and Catholic University--and are working to negotiate low-cost student airfare.
pgsrally. Students interested in speaking at the rally should contact Chris Loftis at firstname.lastname@example.org and Gilbert Newman at email@example.com.