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WSC State and Local Government class attends Legislative session
Posted: Mar 31 2015
Williston State College's State and Local Government class attended an impactful Legislative session on their visit to Bismarck, February 25th and 26th. Every other year, Associate Professor Richard Stenberg takes this class to a legislative session. "We can talk about government," he stated, "but with going we were able to experience government." Stenberg timed the class field trip for Crossover, the mid-way point of the legislature. The class was able to meet with Governor Jack Dalrymple and Olympian Virgil Hill as well as witness a Supreme Court case.
With the start of the semester's curriculum focused on the Legislative session, Stenberg pointed out that "North Dakota is our case study, so the students need to understand how the state thinks and works first." Stenberg likes to call this approach "Political Heritage" where he gives his students a foundation of how North Dakota's government was established. "There are certain eras in our state's past that really shape the mindset of our legislature today, and I try to convey that to my students in this class before we go to Bismarck."
To get the students directly involved with the Legislative sessions, Stenberg has each student track a specific bill. Shonda Culgston, a student of the State and Local Government class, explained, "We are tracking bills, so I knew how things work and what to look for...it was really nice to be able to go down to Bismarck and actually see how it worked." Several students took the opportunity to speak with politicians about their concerns with the bills they were following. Kyren Ellingford, WSC Liberal Arts student interested in Criminal Justice, " I spoke with one of the senators [about the housing concerns in Williston] and she understood the difficulties here and explained that it is a bit of a fight to get funding out of the Red River Valley. It fascinated me with how open she was with me." Kasey Larson, Liberal Arts student interested in Political Science Major, agreed: "It's just cool that you can go down to the senate floor and speak to senators. It's really what impressed me the most, the approachability of everyone."
"North Dakota State's government is so accessible," Stenberg said "How many community colleges will have an audience with their state's governor?" Felicity Kindt spoke for the group when she stated, "If I ever had an issue that was really close to home, I would not be afraid to contact my legislatures and give my opinion. That is something I really took that away from this visit and this class."
The two days at the state capital during Crossover had a similar impact on Kasey Larson; "I will be going into political science most likely, and I always thought national is where you needed to look to get things done. I did not care very much about state and local government. However, throughout our trip, every time we would go into viewing areas or step on the floors of the House or Senate, a smile would break out on my face. It was a lot more interesting than I expected." Jordon Falcon agreed with Larson: "I wanted to go to law school in my senior year, and I thought I was going to be in politics before I was 30. I ended up changing my mind after graduating, but after I got to see everything first hand and experience it, I imagined what it would be like if it were me down in those chairs. It was awesome!"
Williston State College's State and Local Government's experience in Bismarck gave students understanding of how history and politics work in our every day lives. Stenberg sees his students as Legislators in training. Concluding the semester, Stenberg will be working in the actual function of the states government with looking at the Executive and Judicial branches and finally working directly with local politics.
For more information about WSC State and Local Government class, contact Richard Stenberg, firstname.lastname@example.org or 701.774.4262
For other information regarding Williston State, visit www.willistonstate.edu, call 1.888.863.9455, or stop by 1410 University Avenue, Williston, ND
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