7th Annual Michigan Student Political Issues Convention: The necessity of political voice
The current political landscape is pocked and rutted with controversy, good intentions and muffled expressions of hope and concern. For college students and other young voters, dissecting the meaning and import of politics at the state, national and global level can be more overwhelming than finding a good job in a difficult economy with any college education.
Unfortunately, research shows that there continues to be a dramatic decline in youth political participation in every category, which poses a threat to the democratic process. If citizens fail to become politically engaged by their mid 20s, studies shows that they will not become engaged whatsoever.
But the Seventh Annual Michigan Student Political Issues Convention Friday, Oct. 1, held in partnership with the League of Women Voters of Dearborn—Dearborn Heights and www.mivote.org on the campus of Henry Ford Community College in Dearborn, Mich., offers students from colleges throughout Michigan a chance to discuss their concerns and explore issues they feel require solutions. More importantly, through this convention, HFCC and partners have an opportunity to provide a learning experience that could potentially help to reverse the trends in political engagement among young voters.
This event is part of a series of conventions and dialogues at colleges and universities throughout the U.S. as part of the National Student Political Issues Week Oct. 1-8. HFCC is the coordinating institution for the fall event and according to Dr. Anthony D. Perry, a faculty member of Political Science at HFCC and coordinator for this conference, represents a critically important chance for students to share their views and concerns regarding the political future of the world.
'Our expectation is to help students from throughout southeast Michigan participate in the development of a consensus political agenda that they want elected officials to consider when establishing their legislative priorities,' Perry explained.
A number of local and state political figures will attend this event, including the following:
- Dearborn Heights Mayor Daniel Paletko;
- County Commissioner Gary Woronchak;
- Senator Irma Clark-Coleman;
- Representative Bob Constan; and
- Representative George Cushingberry.
This convention will also interactively engage students in a series of concurrent workshops as they work to develop a discourse for their votes at subsequent caucuses and the final session. During this final session, Perry said that several political figures are invited to hear from students and to consider student concerns as they campaign or develop public policy.
For Perry, this event 'is important on a number of levels. First, the activities we have planned provide young people a chance to voice their concerns. The Convention also gives many students their first opportunity to engage their fellow students and political leaders in the discussion of critical issues that are important to students and their communities,' he said, adding that overall, the Convention 'helps students develop their skills of democratic participation and give them practice at using their political voice effectively.'
During the past six years of the Convention, Perry noted that more than 700 students have participated from schools throughout Michigan. Some of the pressing concerns from the 2009 event that students expressed as important include the following:
- economy and jobs;
- education—tuition and cost of higher education;
- world poverty and hunger;
- alternative energy;
- violence; and
- U.S. foreign policy in a time of conflict.
'This year, students will come up with a strong list of concerns that our political leaders must hear,' Perry said. 'This event and the national convention truly provide an opportunity for young people to voice concerns at a time when they may feel there is no avenue for them to do so,' he added.
The event takes places in the several locations on the HFCC campus. General sessions and several of the break-out sessions will be in the Mazarra Administration and Conference Center, including the Forfa Auditorium, Berry and Rosenau Rooms. Registration will take place in the atrium in front of the Forfa Auditorium. In addition, there will be several workshops and caucus voting in the Liberal Studies Building.
For more information, visit https://users.hfcc.edu/~adperry1/Conventions.html. You may also call Dr. Antony Perry at 313.845.6383, or email ADPerry1@hfcc.edu.