14th Annual Michigan Student Political Issues Conference
Henry Ford College, in collaboration with the League of Women Voters, hosted the 14th Annual Michigan Student Political Issues Convention for students from various educational institutions in and around Michigan. The convention’s aim was to challenge and reverse the trends in the lack of political engagement and voter apathy among young voters. The convention provided participating students with a platform to develop nominations for an agenda of political issues that concern them the most.
With the intensifying countdown to the most consequential election of recent times, emphasizing the importance of platforms like the Michigan Student Political Issues Convention, Dr. Stan Jensen, President of Henry Ford College urged students in his opening remarks to keep themselves well informed and continue to be involved. He also encouraged students to motivate others to get involved to ensure that principal-based, issue-based and thoughtful representatives are elected into office.
Following an overview of local government and public services, the opening panel highlighted the role that local governments play as stewards of public goods. The participants then broke off into five concurrent panels on topics that included education, the environment, infrastructure, globalization, jobs and immigration. Following the panel discussions, participants went into various workshops. Included on the list of 21 workshops were: Michigan Water Crisis, Safe Community Relations and The Power of Buying Black. Each workshop was conducted by Henry Ford College students from the Community Leadership program.
The participants then convened in caucuses to nominate and vote their concerns onto an electronic ballot, which students can access from Oct. 21 to Oct. 28. The seven top issues voted for during that time will constitute the Michigan Students Political Issues Agenda which will be sent to elected officials to consider and include as they set their legislative policies.
In the closing session, responding to a question on how to get the younger apathetic generation in the suburbs out of their homes and involved in the communities they live in, United States Representative Debbie Dingell said that involving young people in formulating a common vision and capitalizing on the power of organizing is the way forward. State Senator Morris Hood emphasized that instilling in children the need to get involved in their communities while they are young, and continuing the teaching process as they grow, plays a huge role in fostering interest and highlighting the importance of getting involved.