Public Affairs

Students Striving for Political Change

September 8, 2011
By Stephanie Thara

Students are the backbone of the California State University, and their passion for social change is what makes each campus thrive. Whether it is through an organization, class project or individual activity, CSU students execute campaigns and efforts that advocate social change.

California State Student AssociationFor example, the California State Student Association takes positions on higher education legislation at the state and federal level, prioritizing efforts based on potential impact on students and the CSU. CSSA sponsors legislation and has achieved significant student victories through legislation, mainly in the areas of financial aid, shared governance and state funding. Furthermore, the organization hosts a California Higher Education Student Summit annually to encourage and empower students to become change agents advocating for an accessible, affordable and quality system of public higher education for all Californians.

In addition, a class of public administration students at San Francisco State took part in a Wikimedia Foundation project designed to improve U.S. public policy articles on the Foundation's Wikipedia website. San Francisco State Assistant Professor of Public Administration Sheldon Gen assigned students in his environmental policy class to author Wikipedia articles on topics such as recent amendments to the Clean Air Act. San Francisco State was one of 24 universities that partnered with the Wikimedia Foundation on this project, which was designed to help students improve their research and writing skills, while adding to the public knowledge.

The LegiSchool ProjectLastly, the Center for California Studies at Sacramento State hosts the LegiSchool Project in collaboration with the California state legislature. The LegiSchool Project is a civic education program that engages high school students in all matters of public policy and state government with the guidance from CSU faculty and Capital Fellows (CSU graduate students working in legislative and executive branch offices). LegiSchool leads student legislative summits, organizes interactive televised town hall meetings in which state officials and high school students discuss contemporary issues, and houses a video curriculum library comprised of short videos produced by the California Channel and LegiSchool on basic functions of state government. Moreover, LegiSchool hosts a Real World Civics summer internship program where high school students from the Sacramento area spend time job shadowing Capital Fellows.