Transcript for About the Town Hall

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-Intro (Music playing)

-Jill Martins-Swiencicki- The town hall meeting is one of the main places for first year students to lead conversations about issues that interest them.

-Students in classroom (music playing)

-Jill Martins-Swiencicki -I really think that when students come to the university we need to make an argument to them that what they are doing here matters.

-Students presenting (music playing)

- Jill Martins-Swiencicki -They can’t start seeing themselves as researchers when the research goes nowhere.  That’s not how real researchers do their work.  They do it so they can put it out there and get a response.

-Students presenting (music playing) 

Jill Martins-Swiencicki -I think that the town hall tries to do that: we want to see what conclusions you came to in your work. They take the youngest members of our community and say that what you have to say matters.

-Intro continues (music playing)

- Students talking:  Male voice- we really need to call… Male voice- I just have to print it and… Male Voice- what’s up? Female voice- you can do that as long as you just sign it. Do you want to just fill this out though . . .

-Ally Wick-My name is Ally Wick. We did women in the media and um how the media portrays women. In uh negative light and makes us believe that we have to be skinny to fit in. There’s just a lot of pressure towards women that the media puts on us. We made a pamphlet with graphics on the outside and then on the inside there are some facts to take back with you.

-Matthew Stuart- Uh my name is Matthew Stuart, Graffiti in the community, that’s what it is.

-Itabe Eraser- Well I learned that actually a lot of people are, um, have self body images. Like if, when Angelina Jolie came out, ‘cause she had big lips so a lot of people went to cosmetic surgery just to get their lips bigger, or when Pam Anderson Lee came out she had big breasts so a lot of women want to have bigger breasts.

Thia Wolf- The first year experience program which is the program I direct produces the town hall, so on the day of the town hall my staff members most of whom are students start the day early by setting up a tent with help from the university in the free speech area the students come by they put up exhibits that show to the public the kind of research that they have been doing what their key questions are. Some of the exhibits are interactive. Some are films. There’s just a range of things for people walking by the free speech area to stop in and look at and think about. We are really trying to provoke thought about public issues.

Jill Martins-Swiencicki- The town hall meeting is the culmination of a syllabus in English 130 called Writing for the Public Sphere. So students spend two thirds of the semester researching a current issue that matters deeply to them. And after they finish that writing they move on to lead a discussion about what they have learned to a larger audience, and that discussion is the town hall meeting.

Eri Roman- My topic was the health of our democracy dealing with emotional appeals and rhetoric and basically I analyzed campaign ads and how the campaign ads had certain emotional appeals, like creating fear to get someone to vote a certain way or having hope to, you know, seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.

Karen Corado- My discussion was the financial and social burden of Iraq. Doing the Town Hall meeting was an awesome experience, I learned a lot, I got to speak in public, which is one of my fears. And besides just learning what I learned. I learned what other people had learned.

Jill Martins-Swiencicki- the idea came from teaching students and seeing over and over again that we asked them to do research and they had this preconceived, prepackaged notion of what a research essay was. Ok I pick a topic, I take the first eight sources I find, I plug them into an essay, and I call it done. And it seemed so disconnected from their lives and it seemed so disconnected from the world they live in. so the idea came from trying to give them a real audience and a real purpose for the work that they do.

Eri Roman- My discussion was kind of different from the other discussions with it being that I actually had a longer video to show. It was part of the assignment, I actually made a documentary. One of the things, I showed it on the video, a positive message has the same affects as a negative message with the exception that the negative message has to have a fear cue and they will both work pretty well together it getting someone to sway their vote in some way. So I thought that was the most interesting thing that I found in my research.

Jill Martins-Swiencicki-No work in the university should ever feel like busy work, it should be connected and it should connect them to the world they live in.

Students, community members, staff, and visitors- lots of talking before entering the classrooms to hear students speak.

Thia Wolf- Then we always have a welcome from the composition coordinator. We have a short key note speech to set the tone.

Kim Jaxon- I’ll give you some context so that you understand why you are here (laughter in the background). I am going to try to answer, you know, the small questions in life, why are you here? And what should you be doing. And ultimately what should you being doing tonight, what kind of questions have students put out there for us to think about.

Thia wolf- we really want the town hall to be about conversations among lots of people, so we want to make that clear and we move from that initial session in the auditorium to lots of small breakout rooms. The audience goes to those presentations those are led by students. And with an emphasis on conversation among all members.

Young women in black and tan top- To sum up my research: I chose this topic because I was tired of seeing our generation and the media telling us we have to look and be a certain way to be beautiful.

Young women in black shirt and white pants- I picked this topic because I am an African American and I want to see how the beauty ideal affected me personally. One of the problems I had with my research was that when I would tell people about it a lot of people thought it was just another black versus white thing.  When really all women are affected by the main stream media.

Jill Martins-Swiencicki- There are two main kinds of student participation. There are people who facilitate roundtable discussions those are the people who take that research that they did and translate it into a conversation. And then there are indirect participants and those people attend the town hall and there not leading a conversation on, they are doing some research so that they can be really informed productive members of the conversation.

Ally Wick- I think a lot of it is a respect issue. With all the media things, I did it for my topic as well. It just seems like women are portrayed so poorly and I don’t understand why it hasn’t stopped and it is a problem because it leads to unhealthy behaviors and it’s just all us striving for an unrealistic goal.

Jordan Ash- I attended the session on sexism and how it is portrayed in the media. You know I don’t know if it’s so much that I learned anything, but I was able to discuss things with my peers that, you know, gave me a better perspective of what the majority thinks on the topics. And how they feel.

 Jill Martins-Swiencicki- Some of the assumptions that underlie the town hall meeting are what would happen to our university community if we valued the writing and ideas of first year students as much as we valued the writing and the work of some of the most senior researchers on campus. Another underlying assumption is what would happen if we started to blur student identity and civic identity. So that when they took a writing course or some of their general education courses students didn’t feel like they were going through the motions, but actually making a difference, taking their research and saying I want other people to see this,  I want other people -- faculty administrators, staff, my peers -- to weigh in on what I am saying.

Jennifer Atwood- Hi I am Jennifer Atwood and I researched the health aspect of global warming. Studies show that Europeans who are now age thirty have a higher mortality rate, it’s a lot higher than ours . . .

Young man in blue shirt and grey sweater- Isn’t there also scientific studies that show that global warming is also possibly a natural re occurring cycle which the earth goes through , like goes through a periodic cooling phase and then heating?

Jeff Price- The natural component of warming is actually less than ten percent. And in fact all of the natural variables that would lead to feed into the natural climate cycles are on a down turn, and if it was natural we should be cooling at the moment. That includes solar variability, solar orbits and volcanic activity, which are the big three.

Thia Wolf- During the reception the students that led discussions are asked to sit at tables with policy makers who are people in the community with influence, people who have expertise in the area that the students have investigated, and at that table during that last hour the policy makers help the student leaders to think about next steps they could take, because our emphasis is on the scholar citizen. So we are not only promoting research but also action in the community based on an informed position.

Eri Roman- My policy maker was Sandra Flake and she is the Provost of the campus, and I also spoke to Deanna Berg she was one of the policy makers that actually went to my discussion. And she is director of civic engagement on campus

Deanna Berg- The year with Nader was a perfect example of that.  So, I was just thinking about the connection between your two sessions though, you we’re talking about voter registration and you were talking about the rhetoric and we really need to do a better job of not just registering students but then making those connections of, ok, now you are registered how do you get through the rhetoric to make the good choices and get a vote.

Thia Wolf- The student leaders that sit down with the policy makers get a chance to talk to somebody who can help them do something real. For instance, some of the students got to speak to president Zingg. The students that talked to him were interested in the dilemmas that first generation college students face.

DR. Paul Zingg- Ok, what did you identify as special issues for first generation students that would be different from folks who have had, siblings, brothers sisters in their families go to college before?

Thia Wolf- President Zingg told me afterward that he learned a great deal, he found it very helpful and of course he is positioned to do something. To implement programs to implement aid. To continue a dialogue. Jeff Price, who is a Noble prize-winning scientist for his contribution on his research of climate change, sat down with students who had researched climate change, they had a lot of facts about climate change but they were really not very clear about how they could act in a way that would matter. So he was there to help them think about that.

Jeff Price- You know that there are efforts undergoing right now to actually make rocks. That you can take one type of rock and carbon dioxide and make another kind of rock. Well that’s chemistry and Geo Chemistry and, you know , synthetic fuel, alternative fuel supplies, hydrogen, that’s all chemistry so this, you know, ties into what you do.

Jill Martins-Swiencicki- It’s so exciting when a student finishes a town hall roundtable experience, and  they have had this conversation, and a faculty member says hey, it sounds like this really interests you, you should come and take my class. So students get direction in terms of how they can orient themselves in their work at Chico State. I have also seen things happen when students get hooked up with other students so they will have a conversation in a roundtable and students will say you know, you should join our club, we are doing this kind of work and we could really use you. So I have seen these moments where students do this research and they think, this is just for a paper, but it ends up creating this kind of identity for them.

Jordan Ash- The town hall meeting is something to give the students a sense of being a citizen and what it is all about. You know about acting in your community in a positive way that will affect the betterment of people’s lives.

Karen Corado- I think that everyone should do it. It was such a great experience and everybody learned so much and it’s just an amazing thing. Like, I can’t believe they expected so much from us and at the end we did. We were there and they understood us and it was just amazing.

Eri Roman-One of the surprising things I found was that this project actually made me want to change my major to political science. So this has definitely changed my life.

Jill Martins-Swiencicki- So it feels like the students have found more meaning in the work that they do. They see that the life of the classroom is not separate from the life of the community that they live in or from their life as a citizen.

Closing credits- (music playing)