CSU, Chico News

‘Great Debate’ Tackles Free Speech Issues

Date: 04-11-2012

Joe Wills
Public Affairs

California State University, Chico students are preparing for a Chico Great Debate event Friday, April 13, on timely and contentious issues related to free speech, new technologies and protest.

Students and other community members will take part in speeches, presentations and debates starting at 9 a.m. and leading up to a main debate at 6:30 p.m.

The activities take place in the Chico City Council Chambers, 421 Main St., and are open to the public. Volunteers are needed; call 898-5883 for more information.

The Main Event Debate topic will be “Should California enact policies prohibiting the camping, sleeping and storing of personal belongings on public grounds not designated for such usage?" Topics to be discussed during the day include Occupy protests, Internet regulation, digital piracy, funeral protests, obscenity, censorship in schools, free press and social networks.

Zach Justus, coordinator of the public speaking course in the Department of Communication Arts and Sciences, said students in communication classes will participate in multiple discussions and debates during the day.

The Great Debate program began in spring 2010. It is an ongoing, cooperative project between the city of Chico and CSU, Chico dedicated to the American ideals of civility, reason and respect and is designed to encourage civil public discourse.

Friday’s event includes a civic expo of information exhibits created by students, discussion groups on the topic and debates open to the public.

CSU, Chico’s First-Year Experience Program, which has also sponsored community town hall meetings led by students since 2006, helps organize the Chico Great Debate events. The First-Year Experience Program is designed to assist first-year students succeed in their transition to university life and become active community participants.

Prior Chico Great Debate topics include education reform, increasing restrictions on immigration, legalizing marijuana and whether California should repeal the Global Warming Solutions Act.

For more information on the Chico Great Debate, go to http://www.csuchico.edu/fye/Public_Sphere_Work/greatdebate/index.shtml.