ISU Students Get Ready to Use Their Voices

March 23, 2012

More than 60 students attended the Elect Her–Campus Women Win training at Idaho State University on Thursday, February 16, hosted by the Anderson Gender Resource Center. AAUW leader and ISU alum Maribeth Alder worked with Rebecca Morrow, director of the center, to organize the event.

Campus politics was a hot topic that day: After months of escalating friction between the embattled president of ISU and the Faculty Senate (including its vote of no confidence in the president), the State Board of Education dismantled the faculty representative body. Many students, stunned by this decision, attended the session to learn what they could do to have a greater voice in campus life and leadership.

As the ISU facilitator, I traveled to campus from Arlington, Virginia, and shared my own strategies from when I was elected student trustee at my own college in Ohio.

Mayor Amy Woodworth-Wynn of American Falls kicked off the day with an engaging presentation about her path to public service, which began when she served as a page to U.S. Rep. Richard Stallings (D-ID) in Washington, D.C., during her junior year of high school. Woodworth-Wynn was elected to the American Falls City Council when she was just 21 years old, and she is now in her second term as mayor. The mother of three sons, she remarked that they are “smart, interesting, funny, and very patient and understanding when they have to wait while people stop mom to talk about city issues.”

Brad Christensen, former Gov. Dirk Kempthorne’s senior executive assistant, taught the workshop participants about message development and public speaking. Through his interactive presentation, students learned how to use communication to change their neighborhoods and campuses.

Two current student senators, Shaun Stokes and Spencer Wagner, discussed the nuts and bolts of ISU student government elections and shared stories and strategies about their own successful campaigns.

Participants were provided ballots and given 30 minutes to test their new skills by soliciting votes from students. The competition was a fun way to engage other students on campus. The winner was Cody Taylor, a senior at Pocatello Senior High School, who garnered more than 30 votes and is president of his school’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Straight Alliance.

But all of the students came away with great experiences. Participant Mirazun Mitu learned that “we have a voice, and I can change my campus” by becoming involved in student government. Citing the networking opportunities as a highlight of the training, Brandi Palmer said, “I am so happy to learn new things — I’m sure I’ll use these tips when I’m in the real world.”

This post was written by Nancy Bocskor, president of the Nancy Bocskor Company and cross-posted from AAUW.

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