Stanislaus State forum to ask: Who's left out?

TURLOCK -- Students and professors at California State University, Stanislaus, will hold a discussion Wednesday on the hurdles that many groups face in the United States.

The forum, "America's Borders and Barriers -- Who are the 'Real' Disenfranchised?", is free and open to the public.

A similar gathering about pop culture in March sparked a lot of dialogue at Stanislaus State, faculty and students said. Organizers are trying to build momentum toward more discussion and student activity on campus as well as in the community.

"We're talking about disenfranchisement in the broadest sense," said Armin Schulz, forum coordinator. "(The title) is open to one's perspective and one's point of view. People bring different perspectives from different areas."

To disenfranchise is to deny rights to people. Those people can be minorities; they can be the poor, uneducated, sick or homeless.

A facilitator will lead the discussion with three students and three professors on the panel. Possible issues they'll touch upon include world business practices such as outsourcing, the law and social injustice, said Schulz, also an education professor and director of the faculty center.

"What's the human story? Human lives are involved, there's an impact on people we know and love," he said. "We want to encourage people to build a sense of awareness, a sense of appreciation for the challenges a certain segment of society deals with."

Organizers hope to offer another forum in the spring. That topic might be on the responsibilities Americans have to be informed citizens and vote.

"We want to build a bridge, build a bigger community of learners," Schulz said.

The forum opens with refreshments at 4 p.m., with discussion from 4:30 to 6 p.m. in the Event Center on campus, One University Circle.

Bee staff writer Michelle Hatfield can be reached at mhatfield@modbee.com or 578-2339.