With the Top 10 Ideas submission around the corner, the students within the Lower Northeast Roosevelt Institute | Campus Network are tackling a wide range of urgent problems. They shared their values and visions, such as food justice and equal to access to better education. They had ideas that address the issues while upholding our values. However, these ideas need to be in a form that systemically allows government and society to bring its intended result. That is policy. To help students write policy, the Lower Northeast Roosevelt Institute | Campus Network gathered at the CUNY City College of New York (CCNY) for the Policy Training Workshop.
On Sunday, October 26, students came together from various schools, such as New York University, New School, Fordham University, and Columbia University. The workshop started with presentations by students published in the 2014 Top 10 Ideas. The students offered methods and tips for how to approach policy issues. They passionately shared their ideas, such as health access in indigenous communities in Panama and community reintegration of mentally ill offenders. One interesting advice that the published students mentioned was simply talking to others. Talking to professors, experts, and peers about your policy only helps to develop your idea. Different perspectives can address gaps in your policy or reinforce your idea.
The next section of the workshop focused on policy writing itself. Students were shown how to effectively outline their proposals. With the outline method down, the students went on to learn the writing format of policy proposals. They took extensive notes and ask thoughtful questions to workshop leaders. Such peer to peer engagement helps students develop their policy writings and ideas.
After a hearty lunch, the CCNY chapter had everyone in the workshop participate in a game called “spiderweb.” In short, the game forces a person to ask another person a random question, such as “If you had a time machine, where would you go” or “What was your most favorite gift that you’ve ever received?” While holding the end of a paper stream, the questioner throws the paper stream to another person to answer the question. The process repeats until everyone answered one question. In the end, a web was created, like a network. Funny and touching stories were told. Jokes and deep truth were shared. Selfies were taken. Despite what may have appeared to be trivial, the students were able to see the Roosevelt Campus Network as a connection of like minded millennials working together to solves policy problems.
The workshop then proceeded to finish the day with an organizing training and Rethinking Communities presentation. The Lower Northeast Co-Coordinator, Dylan Welch, showed students how to build effective teams and power maps. Students learned to mobilize support and target key stakeholders to carry out policy changes. NYU project leader Eugenia Kim followed afterwards with a presentation on Rethinking Communities. This project gives students the opportunities to address local problems within their campus communities.
Millennials have innovative ideas that can be translated into policy. Writing policy is a skill that can be learned by all students with any major or level of experience. However, positive change does not stop there. It requires organizing and on the ground action. From jotting down the policy outline to taking huge selfies, students left the workshop with more confidence in bringing their bold and new ideas into reality.