On Friday, October 12th, community college students from all over Michigan gathered at Henry Ford Community College, a TDC member institution, to participate in the 9th annual Michigan Student Convention 2012, sponsored by HFCC and the League of Women Voters.

The day started at 8:30am with some students being assigned to caucus rooms to lead post-workshop discussion and caucus voting. Once assignments were in place the convention commenced with an opening session that highlighted educational, local, state, and national leaders for Michigan. They spoke of the importance of civic engagement, understanding the political process, and being participatory citizens. The opening session was then followed by a Women’s Panel, featuring prominent female leaders in the state. The panel spoke to the following issues of the day:

  • The importance in encouraging more women to participate in democratic politics and political engagement.
  • The unique barriers that women must overcome to serve in public office.
  • How have they overcome these and other hurdles to public service.
  • What is their recommendation for youth involvement in public office.

While the speakers were inspiring, the most interesting part of the morning was the workshop time slot. Students gathered in classrooms all around the campus to listen to speakers from all walks of life, (whether they be leaders, scholars, experts, students, or even those with a vested interest) and learn about today’s salient issues. The full list of workshops can be found on the right hand side of the document here.

After the speakers ended the students would gather back in their assigned caucus rooms and declare what issues they think are important and should be voted on in the general assembly.

The following were the voting rules for each room: (click for download of voting rules)

Each Voting Caucus group will tally the students’ votes for presentation at the Final Plenary Session.

  • For an issue to be considered for a vote in the caucus each issue that can be voted on in the caucus must receive a nomination by one student, and a minimum of two students must second the nomination.
  • Each student is allowed to nominate only one (1) issue, but has no limit on the number of issues they can second.
  • Issues receiving a nomination, but not receiving the required seconds can only be considered one time for inclusion in the caucus vote.
  • Once an issue has been nominated and seconded two times, then the caucus coordinator will write the issue on the chalk board. [This will indicate the issues eligibility for being voted on.]
  • Caucus coordinator shall announce three (3) times that the nominations are closing before accepting no more nominations and proceeding with the voting.
  • Each student can cast up to 3 votes. The votes can be cast towards a single issue or can be distributed for up to 3 issues.
  • Based on the number of votes each issue receives in the caucus, the top seven issues will be placed on the final Michigan Student Political Issues agenda.
  • If fewer than seven issues are reported out of the caucus, then those issues will be the only issues considered during the vote of the final agenda.
  • All issues receiving votes, but not making it upon the final agenda, will be listed in an addendum indicating their support.
  • After the report of the caucus sessions, a vote will occur during the final session on the final agenda.

A motion must be made by a caucus (made by caucus coordinator) and seconded by another caucus to begin the final vote or for any other modification to the final list of issues (combining or eliminating issues can occur in the final session; however, additions will not be accepted).

After lunch the students gathered in the general assembly room to lay out all the issues that received the minimum amount of votes in the separate caucus rooms. As a collective body they all voted on all the issues presented and came out with the top five: healthcare, unemployment, gay marriage, the economy, and education. The students were allowed to debate both sides of the issues before voting happened to have their voices and ideas heard by all convention participants.

The convention concluded with the Elected Officials Panel made up of local and state legislatures and representatives. After the various comments about the process of the day by the panelists, students were allowed to stand and ask
pointed questions about personal platforms, beliefs, and stances touching mostly on the five most important issues along with those most pertinent at the local and state levels.

By the end of the day nearly 500 students learned about significant political and policy issues, discussed and debated those issues in a civil manner, and then had their voices heard by elected officials. It was a fantastic experience; it was an honor to take part. Thank you, Henry Ford Community College!

Click here for a quick report about the participation at this convention.

Do you think your school could host a student convention for your region or state?

For additional narrative about the day please visit: http://www.pressandguide.com/articles/2012/10/21/news/doc5081add168268530087190.txt

For more information on how to plan a student convention, please contact Anthony Perry of Henry Ford Community College.