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In Order to Have Students in a Town Hall, You Must First Let Students Know of a Town Hall

Ron Jackson (left), Michelle Anderson (center) and Tony Thomas (right) addressed concerns at the first town hall. PHOTO/ Zainab Iqbal

By Zainab Iqbal

Published: February 13th, 2019

Last week was the first of the four town halls that students had demanded from the Brooklyn College administration. Unfortunately, students did not show up.

A few days before the town hall on Tuesday, February 5, the editor of the other campus newspaper texted me asking if I was going to the town hall. I was confused because I had heard of no such event. I asked around if other people knew about it, and many shook their head no. There were no fliers, posters, tweets, or Facebook posts about the town hall. So how were students supposed to know about it?

According to the College, every student received a welcome back message from President Michelle Anderson at the beginning of this semester. On January 25, students did in fact receive an email titled, “Welcome to the Spring Semester.” Students received it in their Brooklyn College emails. Not many students check their Brooklyn College emails, and have changed the email on Web Central to their personal emails (but still, emails still go to their BC email accounts).

Even so, once you open the email, the part addressing a town hall is stated in the fifth paragraph—right in the middle of the email. Town halls are very distinctive events that give people a chance to directly ask questions to officials that are supposed to represent them.  It is hard to understand why this wasn’t its own separate email.

It is also hard to understand why nothing was posted on the Brooklyn College Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook pages about the town halls. The college’s twitter has over 8,000 followers. Surely, if the town hall was advertised on social media, students would have showed up. Just like they showed up for the many protests on campus.

Yes, the whole purpose of a town hall is to engage in dialogue in person. But, in order to that, you have to let people know. And how do you do that? You go on the very thing that millennials live in. The internet.

At the town hall, the entire room was filled with staff and faculty members. Two members of CLAS student government and two members of the Young Progressives of America were in attendance. Five students (including me) were a part of the press, either writing for the papers or the college radio. That was it.

Usually at events hosted by the college’s administration, there are people livestreaming it on the Brooklyn College Facebook page. The town hall was not being livestreamed. How come? When asked about it, Anderson said they can definitely livestream the remaining three.

Town halls are vital and student participation is necessary. To obtain that, you need to reach out to students first. Let them know the opportunity they have been given. Ask them to come join you. Livestream the event. Ask them to ask you questions. Once you do that, why wouldn’t students show up?

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