Henry Ford College (HFC) and the League of Women Voters of Dearborn–Dearborn Heights will host the 11th Annual Michigan Student Political Issues Convention on Friday, Oct. 31, from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. in the Andrew A. Mazzara Administrative Services & Conference Center (ASCC) on the 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 Oct. 24 through Nov. 1 – where college and university campuses across the nation are encouraging students to become more politically active.
The conference will have some unique highlights this year, as described below:
· The American Lebanese University (ALU) in Lebanon will moderate two panels focused on the crisis in the Middle East involving ISIS. Students will be able to interact with the ALU students via webcast.
· Congressman John D. Dingell will speak about his 59 years in the House of Representatives.
· Debbie Dingell – a member of the Wayne State University Board of Governors who announced in August that she will be running for her husband’s seat in the House – will deliver the keynote address at 9 a.m.
· There will be 25 student-led panels on various political issues.
HFC 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 HFC 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,” said Perry.
Many local and state political figures have been invited to attend this event, including the following:
· Dearborn Mayor John B. O’Reilly, Jr.;
· Wayne County Commissioner Gary Woronchak;
· Wayne County Commissioner Irma Clark-Coleman;
· State Representative David Knezek;
· State Representative George Darany;
· State Representative Kurt Heise;
· Michigan Senator Hoon-Yung Hopgood;
· Michigan Senator Morris Hood; and
· Congresswoman Candice Miller.
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 10 years this convention has been held at HFC, Perry has noted that more than 700 students have participated from schools throughout Michigan. Some of the pressing concerns for the 2014 convention that students have expressed as important include the following:
· higher education cost and funding;
· primary education reform;
· unemployment and jobs;
· national debt;
· U.S. Foreign Policy in the Middle East; and
· Global warming.
“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,” said Perry.
Registration will take place in the atrium in front of the Forfa Auditorium in the ASCC. In addition, there will be several workshops and caucus voting in the Liberal Studies Building.
For more information, please contact Perry at 313.845.6383 or firstname.lastname@example.org