Civics education and engagement are a top priority at St. Petersburg College.
On Oct. 10-11, the Civics Club at the Clearwater Campus will host the Second Annual Florida Model Legislature event, which gives students hands-on experience in creating and passing legislation. So far, students have drafted 16 bills dealing with public policy issues that will move through their lawmaking process.
“The goal of the Model Legislature is to bring students together for civic dialogue and learning,” said Suzanne Preston, Social Sciences Professor and Civics Club Advisor on the Clearwater Campus.
The event is open to all SPC students to help them develop civic leadership and awareness of local and state issues, Preston said. They can then become better informed citizens and stronger participants in their communities, she added.
More than 80 students from several campuses participated in the inaugural event last year. Preston said the event let students put on their “legislative hats,” roll up their sleeves, and debate, negotiate and compromise on Florida’s public policy dilemmas, learning more about themselves and their community.
“This event teaches students how government operates, and creates an excitement in them when they see what is actually going on in the legislature and how it effects them in real life,” said Andrew Malyj, former president of the SGA at the campus.
Civics Club members led the initiative to bring this event to the college after members of the Clearwater Student Government Association traveled to Tallahassee in Spring 2013 to participate in a Model Legislature. The students were inspired by the event and proposed bringing a similar experience home to their campus so more SPC students could benefit from the experience.
“Student leadership on the Clearwater Campus brought this initiative to the Clearwater Campus and the Clearwater SGA funded it both years,” Preston said.
Workshops were held this week leading up to the two-day event to encourage students from across the college’s 11 learning sites to participate. The workshops teach students how to draft legislation, participate in the formal debate processes and improve civic dialogue through collaboration.
Civics Club members, as well as past Model Legislature participants, will play leadership roles in this year’s event. Social and Behavioral Science faculty will also lend their support.
“Students are left with a lifelong understanding of the legislative process and how to engage as a citizen leader,” said Tara Newsom, Associate Professor of Social and Behavioral Sciences.
Visit the SPC Model Legislature website for more information about the event.