CSU, Chico News

Students to Examine Criminal Justice Issues in Public Debate

Date: 11-04-2015

Sarah Langford
Public Affairs
Thia Wolf, Director
First-Year Experience

Nearly 2,000 students from California State University, Chico and Butte College will focus on criminal justice policy issues during the Chico Great Debate on Friday, Nov. 6, in the Chico City Council Chambers and City Hall.

Organized by CSU, Chico’s First-Year Experience program, the daylong event features speeches, presentations and debates prepared by students on a timely and controversial public issue. The Great Debate encourages respectful exchange and collaborative civic learning through civil discourse. Past debate topics include controversial technology, privatization and the role of government, diversity and discrimination, mental health issues and water and agriculture policy.

The day begins at 9 a.m. with student presentations and debates every hour. The main event begins at 6:30 p.m. and features a debate on the death penalty by political science Professor Emeritus and attorney Ed Bronson and state Sen. Jim Nielsen, R-Gerber. The event will be broadcast live on YouTube, and later archived, at this link: www.youtube.com/user/FirstYearExperience.

A civic expo, featuring interactive displays of student research, will be held from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. in the City Plaza.

Democratic participation is a focus of the First-Year Experience, said program director Thia Wolf.

“Everything we do in the program is aimed at creating higher levels of engagement and retention for first-year students,” she said. “We’ve created a series of public experiences for them that help them connect courses they take in the first year to their lives beyond the University. We’re trying to connect their college education to their identify formation—in a democracy specifically.”

Since its launch in 2010, the First-Year Experience program has become a model for other colleges and universities. Butte College joined the Great Debate in 2012, placing students from speech courses at the community college alongside their peers from CSU, Chico’s communication classes. Others have patterned public sphere pedagogy programs after Chico’s, including Shasta College; Chabot College in Hayward; Cleveland State University; Shenandoah University in Virginia; and Miami Dade College in Florida.

Learn more about the CSU, Chico’s First-Year Experience Program and the Chico Great Debate by visiting www.csuchico.edu/fye.