CSU, Chico News

Students Put Policy Issues in Focus at Town Hall Meeting

Date: 11-04-2014

Sarah Langford
Public Affairs
Ellie Ertle, Director
Office of Civic Engagement

California State University, Chico students will tackle issues ranging from the environment to the economy at a town hall meeting Thursday, Nov. 13, from 6 to 9 p.m. in the Bell Memorial Union (BMU) Auditorium and other campus locations. Event coordinators anticipate more than 700 student and community participants.

CSU, Chico’s Town Hall Meeting Program is embedded in the University’s first-year political science course on American government and offers students the opportunity to collaborate with faculty and community members on solving current policy issues.

After opening remarks in the BMU, students move to various locations on campus for breakout sessions. During these sessions, moderators encourage students to share their research with other students and interested participants. Students conclude the evening in small roundtable sessions with members of campus and the community serving as consultants to assist with next steps in research and the development of a plan for civic action. Consultants may include City Council members, political activists, nonprofit advocates, educators and graduate students.

A variety of topics are on the table, including veterans’ issues, human trafficking, job creation, Chico alcohol and drug policies, homelessness, crime and punishment, improving K-12 education, energy and animal policies.

More than 100 student participants will be selected to participate in a Dec. 9 civic engagement forum, where they will present the outcomes of their research and the actions they took to work on their issue.

Participant surveys show that students who engage in the Town Hall meeting have a higher persistence rate at CSU, Chico and are more likely to be engaged citizens. The data also show that students feel more strongly that they can have a meaningful impact on the University and community as a result of participating.

“The Town Hall Meeting affords students the opportunity to engage in meaningful conversations with community members and policy experts and to see for themselves the civic impact they can make when they get involved,” said Town Hall Meeting student event coordinator Luke Alward.

The Town Hall program is a signature piece of CSU, Chico’s Public Sphere Pedagogy, which embeds a "public sphere" in first-year courses, moving students from a typical classroom setting to a dialogue-rich environment. The program is a collaborative effort between the First-Year Experience, a campus program aimed at easing students’ transition to college life, and the Department of Political Science. It is supported by the Office of Undergraduate Education and the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences.

For more information, please contact Director of Civic Engagement Ellie Ertle at 898-3068.