CSU, Chico News

Chico Great Debate Theme is ‘Gender, Equity and Marginalized Voices’

Date: 04-21-2017

Sean Murphy
Public Affairs

California State University, Chico’s tradition of encouraging civic engagement, civil dialogue and social activism among its students continues on Friday, April 21, with events at the day-long Chico Great Debate.

As part of the University’s First-Year Experience program, the theme for the 15th annual Chico Great Debate, is “Gender, Equity and Marginalized Voices,” reflecting the current political climate. Gina Tigri, office coordinator for First-Year Experience, said one of the primary goals of the Chico Great Debate is to help students understand the importance of civil dialogue when discussing topics and current events.

“It’s inevitable that people are going to disagree about these issues, and that’s OK, but we will only be able to make progress if we can disagree in a civil and respectful manner,” Tigri said. “So, emphasizing the value of civil discourse is really important to this event.”

Tigri added that the theme also relates to this year’s Book in Common, “My Life on the Road,” by Gloria Steinem. A noted activist, Steinem spoke at CSU, Chico in March.

The Chico Great Debate takes place throughout the day at the Chico City Council Chambers, 421 Main St., and in the Chico City Plaza, 418 Main St. All of the day’s events are free and open to the public.

Following welcoming remarks at the City Council Chambers at 10 a.m., student speeches, debates and presentations will take place in the City Council Chambers and in the City Plaza every hour from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

From 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., the Chico City Plaza will host the Civic Expo and its interactive exhibits, designed by CSU, Chico students and focused on issues related to the event’s topic.

The Great Chico Debate culminates with a “Main Event Debate” from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. in the City Council Chambers. “Activism Strategies for Social Justice” will discuss the balance between radical activism and incremental activism.

Additionally, University students can participate in a special letter writing forum designed as an opportunity to empower students to become more civically engaged by writing letters to their state representatives. The forum will take place in the City Council Chambers from noon to 2 p.m. “We want them to know that their voice and their opinions matter, and we hope that this experience encourages them to become more involved in the civic process and to be more involved in the Chico community,” Tigri said.

Angela Trethewey, dean of the CSU, Chico College of Communication and Education, is thrilled the Chico Great Debate has emerged as such an important and potentially transformative community event.

“The Chico Great Debate provides our students with an opportunity to apply what they are learning in their communication courses to real world issues in our local communities. This event highlights the important role that communication can play in our contemporary lives,” said Trethewey, one of the featured speakers at the Chico Great Debate. “By communication, I am referring to the opportunity to create new meanings that we haven’t had before through civic and informed dialogue.”

Other featured speakers include Virginia Guleff, vice president of the Office of Student Learning and Economic Development at Butte College, Bill Loker, dean of the Office of Undergraduate Education at CSU, Chico and Chico City Council member Ann Schwab.

The Chico Great Debate is a component of CSU, Chico’s First-Year Experience program, which aims to help new students acclimate to campus life by engaging them in civic activities.