town meeting 2 - Johanna Slotnick Comm 486 Town Meeting 1...

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Johanna Slotnick Comm. 486 Town Meeting 1 vs. 2 Once you lose control of an already hostile audience, you have very little hope of regaining it to the fullest extent. This, compiled with the fact that the class got a bit obnoxious and slap-happy (trying to be comical,) along with the lack of expertise of the panel and the high risk perception of each student led to a very ineffective town meeting. As a starting point, the panel’s opening was less than comforting. The classroom set up seemed a poor choice, as this was not an informative session, but was supposed to be a student forum of discussion, and a circle of chairs may have been more appropriate. Even while the “expert” panelists in the previous town meeting took control of the meeting and taught more that discussed, they had still placed us in a circle fashion to show involvement and the importance of each individual’s presence. The panelist who spoke first immediately stated the panel’s lack of knowledge and power, but didn’t state what the point of the meeting was going to be. She was speaking very unassertively, and did not discuss any credibility, where as the previous town meeting had doctors on the panel. Although these organizers were not supposed to have immediate knowledge of the subject through professional relations, they could have explained their expertise as an organization that mediates between students and administrators. For instance, they could have discussed previous situations in which they rallied students together for a cause and successfully created a change in Cornell’s administrative policies on that issue. Additionally, they could have explained that their fears led them to research the topic, or that as a proactive group they’ve been following the subject for a while now. Additionally, for more credibility, they could have been citing reputable sources all throughout their presentation. Furthermore, by denying questions throughout, they acted against themselves in multiple ways. First and foremost, it’s simply angering the audience and insulting them, as if their concerns didn’t matter. Additionally, if the panel truly wanted others to feel as though they were all on the same side and all students discussing the matter in order to come up with a viable plan of action, as students, then they should have showed more
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respect instead of hushing questions in what sounded like a very fake and forced “we ask that you please hold all questions until the end.” Some panelists even hushed questions with hand gestures of waving at students, quieting them down, which further angered the audience. Furthermore, aside from simple discussion participation (which the panel claimed to want and then didn’t take questions,) they may have seemed more sincerely concerned (as they claimed to be) if questions were taken into account when they came up. Although this group was not allowed to start by breaking off into groups or talking to
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