By Vivian Agnew, Student Co-Coordinator, Fort Hays State University ADP
On Tuesday, March 24th, the FHSU ADP hosted an election forum for City Commission and the USD 489 Board of Education. Planning for the forum began in October of the previous semester.
We invited the Fort Hays State Department of Political Science, College of Education and Technology, Student Government Association, as well as our community partners the Hays Chamber of Commerce to assist us in those early planning stages and to eventually help us to directly facilitate the forum. We also worked with the local internet provider, Eagle Communications, to live stream the event and to tape it to play on one of our local news channels.
Our moderators, Dr. Larry Gould a Political Science Professor, and Dr. Deborah Ludwig, Director of Forsyth Library at FHSU, joined us later in the following semester to help us tweak scripts and comb through the questions we’d been collecting from students and community members through our weekly Tiger Talkback initiative, and tabling in our student union.
Our Tiger Talkback is a question concerning current political events at local, state, or national levels, posted to our Twitter and in the student union on campus; students can respond to the question is a public way, which we hope prompts Civic Engagement by a way of discussion and greater interest in the issue as a whole. We asked students what kind of questions they’d ask of the City Commission and BOE, and got some really great responses. In all of our advertising materials we also including an email address that Eagle Communications helped us set up, so that community members could also ask questions.
About a week before the forum we collected all the questions (there were quite a few of them) and went through them to see what kinds of things our community wanted us to ask the candidates for each race. It took a lot of planning, but the event was a huge success. Student participation wasn’t super high, but the larger Hays community came accounted for a huge majority of the audience.
Patrick Lowry, the head news editor of Hays Daily News commented, “That was the largest attendance at a forum that I have seen in years.” Morgan Lawrence – my co-coordinator – and I were really pleased with the event; all of our hard work resulted in a forum that was informative and engaging, and helped to promote Civic Engagement on campus and in the city of Hays, Kansas. If you are interested in watching our forum, click on this link to a recorded version: http://www.hayspost.com/2015/03/25/hays-cityusd-489-candidate-forum-watch-replay/.