W. Va. ACLU offers citizen activist training on campus Thursday

Members of the community will be coming together to learn about their civil liberties and pertinent information for day to day life in West Virginia during a training session Jan. 19.

The Marshall University Office of Student Affairs and the Marshall chapter of the national political science honor society Pi Sigma Alpha are partnering with the West Virginia American Civil Liberties Union to provide an hour and a half training on civil liberties.

“The training is aimed at helping people organize for change on local, state and national levels,” said Dr. Marybeth Beller, associate professor and director of Masters in Public Administration.

Associate dean of Student Affairs Carla Lapelle said that oftentimes organized groups fizzle out after hosting public displays advocating for their causes.

“When you march, so what? What do you do? How do you cement that? [Marching] certainly gives voice to the concern, but does it cause a change? It might, but there is no guarantee,” Lapelle said.

“Knowing the difference between what we can change and what we have to live with is important,” Lapelle said. “We have the right to address just about anything, and how do you do that?”

Lapelle said she hopes the upcoming training will better equip citizens with information to continuously carry out their causes, instead of abandoning them when it is out of the public eye.

“A citizen’s action group that started with one person helped save the Kanawha State Forest,” Lapelle said. “That person built this group who were against the deforestation. He taught them how to test water and children got involved. They learned about things and then talked to their parents, who may not have cared until their children said something. There are all kinds of ways we can address our concerns and that’s what I’m hoping this will do.”

The training will last roughly an hour and a half and is completely open to the public. Beller said the event will cover non-confrontational behavior, knowing one’s rights as a citizen and the best practices for effective engagement.

Lapelle said the Office of Student Affairs and the West Virginia chapter of the ACLU are already planning more community events, including one titled “How to Make My Government Hear Me,” currently planned for Feb. 15.

Concerned students and citizens can attend the training in the Memorial Student Center room 2W22 starting at 7 p.m.

Will Izzo can be contacted at [email protected]