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Gaza and Beyond: A Guide to Contacting Your Representatives

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Pitt chapter.

This piece was written on 10/21/23. At time of uploading some circumstances may have changed.

Every time I pick up my phone and open any social media app, especially Instagram and TikTok, I am flooded with footage of the genocide that is currently happening in Gaza. Since the bombardment began, I’ve made an effort to closely follow events and make sure that I’m aware of what is actually happening within Gaza, because that is what Palestinians have asked us, as people who are living outside of Palestine and are privileged to be mostly unaffected by the conflict, to do. As a college student in a pretty non-major city where there have been (to my knowledge) no large protests, there are few things that I can do that have the potential to majorly impact the situation, other than following Palestinians on the ground in Gaza, spreading the information they share, participating in boycotts and paying attention to how the situation is developing. One thing I can do, though, is contact my representatives. 

Within the past week, I have contacted my representatives every single day. That’s kind of a nebulous statement, so to be more specific: I’ve 1) called and emailed my district’s members of the House of Representatives and the Senate at least once every single day 2) emailed the White House every day, and 3) called the White House Comment line at least once each day on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday when it was open. 

Like many issues, collective action and massive public outcry are what is needed to make an impact. The more active we are in making sure that our voices are heard (in this case calling for a ceasefire and admittance of humanitarian aid, among other things) the higher the chances of success. In relation to the situation in Gaza, there has already been a shift, however small: President Biden has allocated $100 million in humanitarian aid to be sent into Gaza (as of now, only 20 trucks out of the hundreds that have been waiting in Egypt, and none with desperately-needed fuel, have been allowed to enter; read more here) and Israeli forces have held out on a ground invasion due to the level of backlash it would likely create. In order for the situation to continue to improve, a big part of that is making sure that the United States government, a close ally of Israel and the world’s largest military power, understands that citizens on a large scale want to see definitive action taken. 

This is where contacting your representatives comes in. In addition to protesting and boycotting, it’s one of the most effective ways to let our government know what we want to see in terms of government action, for any issue. For this reason, any time you see a legislative, social, or humanitarian issue on social media, it’s likely that people are telling you to contact your representatives. However, it can be confusing to figure out exactly what steps to take to accomplish that. 

In many cases, groups organizing around a particular issue will create call or email campaigns that allow you to contact your representatives. You put your information in and it will find who all of your relevant representatives are and provide a script for you to email or call with, depending on the campaign. Some of the ones circulating for Gaza are those put together by Jewish Voice for Peace and the Adalah Justice Project with Action Network. These are a great jumping off point, and make it easy to contact your representatives without having to search for who they are or find the ways each office can be contacted. 

Unfortunately, these campaigns are convenient but not always the most effective, especially if you are using the script they include. Kathryn Shulz, in her 2017 article for The New Yorker “What Calling Congress Achieves,” discusses how personal, individualized emails and unscripted calls tend to be more effective in urging lawmakers to act. That doesn’t mean the campaigns listed above, or similar ones for other issues, are totally useless, just make sure to do things like add your own opinions, go off-script, and change the subject line. But, for issues where you can’t find campaigns or prefer to reach out on your own, here’s how to go about it. 

First of all, figure out whether this is a policy within your state or at the federal level. For state-level issues or policies, you’re going to want to address your state legislature. Pennsylvania, like most states, has a two-house (bicameral) legislature, with a larger, lower chamber known as the House of Representatives and a smaller, upper chamber known as the Senate. Different issues are addressed by the different chambers at different times, and the chambers have slightly different powers. Once you know that your issue is state-level, and whether it is occurring in the House of Representatives or the Senate, you can find out which legislator to contact. Most states have official websites that will do this for you. You simply put in your address, because legislators are determined by what district you live in. Typically on these websites you can also look at what issues are being discussed in each house, who has proposed bills, and who has voted on bills. This is the website for Pennsylvania. Once you know your representative’s names, you can find their websites where you’ll be able to see email contact information, issues they’re currently working on, and phone numbers for their offices. When you’re on Pitt’s campus, your PA House Representative is likely either Rep. Frankel or Rep. Mayes, and your PA Senate Representative Sen. Costa. Click on their names to be taken to their individual website contact pages.

Often, issues that are large enough to garner extensive social media or news coverage are happening at the federal level. The federal legislature is set up a lot like the PA state legislature, with a House of Representatives and a Senate, and you can use a find-my-legislator website like the one for PA I linked above, or the House’s Find Your Representative page, to find your representatives. Similarly to state-level issues, it’s important to know if you need to be contacting your Senator or Representative. Right now, a resolution has been put forth in the US House of Representatives by Reps. Cori Bush, Rashida Tlaib, André Carson, Delia C. Ramirez, and Summer Lee (the US House Rep for PA’s 12th district, which contains Pitt’s campus and most of Pittsburgh) calling for a ceasefire in Gaza, so a lot of my time has been put into contacting my home Rep to ask him to co-sign the resolution. Following issues that are important to you, and knowing what legislation is being worked on regarding them, will help you know who to contact and when. The other Representative for Pittsburgh is Christopher Deluzio, and Pittsburgh’s Senator is John Fetterman. 

For certain issues where the President/Vice-President has a unique capacity to impact the situation, or if you need help with a federal agency, you can contact the White House directly. The situation in Gaza is an issue where President Biden has the ability to have a great impact, so contacting the White House to call for a ceasefire is an important step that you can take. This or contacting for any other issues can be done at any time through their email form, or by sending physical mail. The comment line is also an option, particularly for issues that you might consider more urgent. This is a phone line where you can leave messages for the President or Vice President. Hours and info aren’t posted, making it difficult to know when you can actually call, but it appears to be open Tuesday-Thursday from 11-3. You can call the comment line directly at 202-456-1111, but I have had more success with calling the switchboard at 202-456-1414 and asking to be connected to the comment line. 

When you’re contacting your representatives, it’s good to be consistent in your attempts to contact them and clear in what you’re communicating, as well as to contact them through various channels (i.e. call and email, if you can). I strongly encourage you to contact your representatives about any issue that concerns you. Not only is it important to be an active participant in society and our government, it is a great way to make sure that your voice can be heard. 

If you are ready to contact your representatives, but you’re not sure what to say, here are some basic frameworks that can be rearranged to fit your needs. It’s often best to connect whoever you are contacting back to the people that they’re sworn to represent. For example, when calling about the situation in Gaza, you could remind your Rep of their duty to the Palestinian-American families and citizens that they represent whose friends and family are in peril when asking them to support the CeasefireNOW Resolution. Or, if you yourself have a personal connection to an issue, remind them that you, too, are one of their constituents to whom they have a duty. 

Hello. My name is [name], one of your constituents. As a member of the community/citizen of [city/state/etc.], it is important to me that [issue] is addressed. [Explanation of your POV of the issue and how you want your representative to address it]. Thank you for your time and consideration. 


I, [name], am reaching out to you as one of your constituents to ask that you support/do not support/address/etc [issue]. [Explanation]. Thank you.

Kaitlyn is the Business/PR Manager for the Her Campus University of Pittsburgh Chapter, as well as a writer. She is currently a second-year student at Pitt, and initially joined Her Campus last year. Most of her articles cover recipes or entertainment topics like books, movies, and music, but she is looking to expand to a wider breadth of topics. Kaitlyn is an English Literature Major, and plans to minor in both Spanish and Chinese. She is a member of the Frederick Honors College, with plans to study abroad in China or Taiwan. In addition to Her Campus, Kaitlyn is a member of Studio 412, another student publication at Pitt. Outside of classes, Kaitlyn can frequently be found gushing about her dogs, reading, or cooking something for herself and her roommates.