HFCC to host 8th Annual Michigan Student Political Issues Convention Friday, Nov. 11
By Kurt Anthony Krug
HFCC and the League of Women Voters of Dearborn-Dearborn Heights will host the 8th Annual Michigan Student Political Issues Convention Friday, Nov. 11, from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on its main campus.
The purpose of this convention is to reverse the trends in the lack of political engagement among young voters. 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.
However, this convention aims to change that by giving students the chance to make their voices heard on important issues. This event is part of a series of conventions and dialogues at colleges and universities throughout the nation as part of the National Student Political Issues Week occurring the week of Nov. 4-11.
HFCC is the coordinating institution for this event and represents a critically important chance for students to share their views and concerns regarding the political future of the world, according to Dr. Anthony D. Perry, a professor of political science at HFCC and convention coordinator.
'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,' explained Perry.
A number of local and state political figures have been invited to attend this event, including the following:
- Dearborn Mayor John B. O’Reilly;
- Dearborn Heights Mayor Daniel Paletko;
- Wayne County Commissioner Gary Woronchak;
- Wayne County Commissioner Irma Clark-Coleman;
- State Representative Phil Cavanagh;
- State Representative George Darany;
- State Representative Kurt Heise;
- Secretary of State Ruth Johnson;
- U.S. Congressman Sander Levin;
- U.S. Senator Carl Levin;
- U.S. Senator Hoon-Yung Hopgood;
- U.S. Senator Darwin Booher;
- State Representative Bob Constan; and
- State Representative Rashida H. Tlaib.
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.
'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. Overall, the convention helps students develop their skills of democratic participation and give them practice at using their political voice effectively,' said Perry.
During the past six years this convention has been held at HFCC, Perry has noted that more than 700 students have participated from schools throughout Michigan. Some of the pressing concerns for the 2011 convention that students have expressed as important include the following:
- Education: Higher Education Cost and Funding;
- Primary Education Reform;
- Unemployment and Jobs;
- National Debt;
- War: The War in Afghanistan and the U.S. Military
Global Warming; and
- Religion and Rage and Respecting Diversity.
'This year, students will come up with a strong list of concerns that our political leaders must hear. 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,' Perry said.
The event takes places in the several locations on HFCC's main campus. General sessions and several break-out sessions will be in the Andrew A. Mazarra Administration and Conference Center, including the Forfa Auditorium, as well as the 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.