Public Affairs

CSU Campuses Serve as Forums for Civic Discussion

October 1, 2010
By Erik Fallis

CSU Campuses Serve as Forums for Civic DiscussionThe 23 campuses of the California State University are educational, cultural and economic centers for their communities. Ahead of the election, they will also serve as centers for debate and discussion for the wide range of political issues that will face voters at the polls on Nov. 2.

From hosting public forums to getting out the vote, CSU students and campus communities will play a role in the upcoming election. Below are a few examples:

Bring on the Debates

On Saturday, Oct. 2, Fresno State hosts the first statewide broadcast debate between California gubernatorial nominees produced in Spanish.  Univision will produce the one-hour debate between the Democratic candidate, Attorney General Jerry Brown, and Republican candidate Meg Whitman as part of a partnership to help call attention to regional needs and to inform San Joaquin Valley voters.  Fresno State students will be part of the debate audience and are volunteering their time to help at the event for service-learning credit and hands-on experience.

CSU Long Beach and the League of Women Voters will sponsor debates on Oct. 15 for candidates running for the 54th Assembly District and the 37th Congressional District seats.  The public is welcome to attend.  Candidates invited to participate include Bonnie Lowenthal (D) and Martha Flores-Gibson (R) for the 54th, and Laura Richardson (D), Star Parker (R) and Nick Dibs (Independent) for the 37th.

CSU Stanislaus will also host a candidate debate, this one for the Turlock City Council on Oct. 18. 

Students Empowering Other Students

Students from both the CSU and UC systems are teaming up for voter registration and mobilization for the first time.  CSU campuses from San Diego to Humboldt are taking part in a bold initiative to register 60,000 CSU and UC students for the upcoming election.  The project is peer-to-peer and supported by the California State Student Association (CSSA), the University of California Student Association (UCSA), and the United States Student Association Foundation (USSAF).

Making Sense of it All

Ballots in California can get very complicated, especially with this year's large number of initiatives.  CSU East Bay set out to help students and the public work through the complexities in a discussion about unprecedented problems facing California, led by Cal State East Bay Professor of Political Science David Baggins and State Assemblymember Joan Buchanan (D-Alamo).

San Francisco State’s College of Behavioral and Social Sciences is hosting a public lecture series this fall titled “California: The Promise and Now the Reality in the 2010 Governor's Election.”  As part of this series, there will be an election night event with a panel of faculty experts providing analysis of election results as they come in.

Taking an even longer view, Cal State L.A. is hosting the California Policy Issues Conference on Nov. 4, two days after the elections.  The conference will serve to assess implications of election results for California and Los Angeles.  This follows an Oct. 26 campus election roundtable featuring an informative discussion as scholars, journalists and community activists share their perspectives on a variety of issues related to the Nov. 2 elections, including the gubernatorial and senate races, the Tea Party movement, President Obama’s agenda at the midterm, and the legalization of marijuana.