CSU, Chico News

California State University, Chico’s Town Hall Meeting Program Celebrates 10 Years

Date: 11-02-2016

Joe Wills
Public Affairs
Michele Chandler
Public Affairs

California State University, Chico’s successful Town Hall Meeting program will celebrate its 10th anniversary on Nov. 3 from 6-9 p.m. in the Bell Memorial Union Auditorium.

Started in November 2006 with approximately 180 students, the Town Hall Meeting has expanded to become a twice-annual event that typically attracts more than 700 students and community participants each time.

The program gives students the opportunity to discuss current policy issues with other students, faculty, staff, administrators and community members. Most student participants are enrolled in a first-year Political Science course on American government.

After a greeting and remarks by President Gayle E. Hutchinson, participants will move to various locations on campus for break-out sessions, during which moderators will encourage students to share their research with other participants.

Students will conclude the evening in small roundtable sessions with campus and community consultants discussing the next steps in research and possible civic action related to the policy issues.

The Town Hall Meeting was developed as part of CSU, Chico’s First-Year Experience Program (FYE), which aims to help new students successfully transition to college life. Other FYE initiatives include the Chico Great Debate and the Book in Common Program.

Along with academic success, FYE emphasizes civic engagement, which has been shown to help students to acclimate to college and continue past their crucial first year. First-year students who participate in the Town Hall Meeting are consistently more likely to re-enroll for a second year at the University than students who do not take part in the program, according to data gathered by FYE since 2006.

“Town Hall Meeting is a cornerstone of our First-Year Experience program and has made a huge difference in the lives of hundreds of our students,” said Hutchinson. “Not only has it contributed to many first-year students’ desire to stay in school and excel in the classroom, but it has increased their engagement with local issues and with local movers and shakers. Town Hall Meeting is truly one of Chico State’s great success stories.”

Thia Wolf, director of FYE, said the Town Hall Meeting program has become a model of for several other schools, including California State University, San Marcos, California State University, Los Angeles and Tarleton State University in Stephenville,Texas.

Town Hall Meeting has received funding in part from the Bringing Theory to Practice Project and the American Association of State Colleges and Universities'American Democracy Project.

For more information about the Town Hall Meeting, or to volunteer, please contact Town Hall Meeting Coordinator Ellie Ertle, a faculty member in CSU, Chico’s Department of Political Science and Criminal Justice, at eertle@csuchico.edu. The program’s website is located at http://www.csuchico.edu/fye/Public_Sphere_Work/thm/index.shtml and its Facebook page can be found at http://www.facebook.com/ChicoTownHallMeeting.