Freshmen involved in the public issues learning communities have been hosting issue forums to discuss current problems on Troy University’s campus and throughout Alabama.
The public issues course, an alternative to a traditional freshman orientation course, has challenged students to work together to identify a topic and develop an issue forum and service project. An issue forum is the gathering of a group to discuss a relevant issue where ideas and views can be exchanged.
Students participating in the class considered how to approach issues such as dieting and exercise, recycling and cyberbullying. They created action plans on how they personally or collectively can address community and statewide concerns and possible solutions with those assembled.
Jonathan Cellon, coordinator of learning initiatives and instructor of the course, said students are engaged and involved throughout the whole process and gain leadership traits.
“Deliberation is a key leadership skill and valuable tool to help students identify problems,” said Cellon.
The issue forums are aimed to provide attendees a broader viewpoint on how to resolve crucial problems.
Cellon said that he hopes people walk away with a better idea of how they can approach these issues.
“Beyond just a black and white mindset, the forums help people to look beyond the classical viewpoint and allows participants to identify meaningful action steps they agreed upon,” said Cellon.
The first issue forum, which was held Thursday, Nov. 13, addressed health and wellness on Troy’s campus with a specific focus on diet and exercising.
A second forum, given on Wednesday, Nov. 19, discussed recycling to help create a more environmentally-aware and friendly university.
Freshmen Syndi Sweet, an earth and space science major from Huntsville, and Frances Speed, a nursing major from Montgomery, moderated the forum discussion by presenting facts about recycling.
The students discussed action steps to expand the recycling program on campus and encouraged students to offer suggestions and provide feedback throughout the meeting.
“I believe that recycling more on campus is important to us because it shows our passion for the environment,” said Sweet.
Other students in the class were involved in the pre-forum process. Katlyn Scruggs, a freshman criminal justice major from Montgomery, was on the management team and realized the need for recycling to reduce waste.
“While picking up trash and recyclables on campus, I saw a lot of waste and it made me more aware of the need for recycling bins across campus,” said Scruggs. “I would encourage students not to be wasteful.”
The service project team went to various buildings on campus to determine whether the recycling bins were effective in eliminating waste.
“Over the course of the two days, our service project team found that each building had over 50 percent of recyclable material in the trash containers,” said Speed during the forum.
Students involved in the presentation gave three actions steps on how to promote an eco-friendly campus.
Action one is convenience relating to the ease of access of recycling bins. Students suggested placing more recycling bins in more locations, and having appealing receptacles.
Action two is making students, faculty and staff more aware of what materials can be recycled.
Action three is discussing how the current system of recycling can be changed or modified to produce greater on campus participation.
Attendees were asked to identify what Troy was doing wrong in terms of promotion of recycling. The number one response was not informing students of recycling options nor making them aware of how and what to recycle.
Participants offered solutions to this problem including providing incentives to those who recycle, inviting speakers to campus to discuss the effects of harmful waste and increasing the number and location of recycling bins on campus.
A final forum on cyber-bullying in Alabama will be hosted in HAL HALL at 4:30pm on Thursday, Nov. 20.