Citizenship@Mizzou receives mixed reviews on new two part program aimed at introducing freshmen to MU’s values

Responses to the program have varied, but numbers show that attitudes on campus are changing for the better.
The Citizenship@Mizzou’s 2017 team presents to freshmen about MU’s values and goals. Courtesy of Twitter via Mizzou Diversity

Registration for next semester is on the horizon and many freshmen are wrapping up the newly implemented second sessions of Citizenship@Mizzou.

The follow up program was added this year and allows students to choose from 50+ speakers, workshops and events on various topics like active citizenship, controversy with civility, implicit bias and allyship according to the Citizenship@Mizzou website.

Citizenship has changed to include more choices after receiving feedback through surveys on its previous programs.

“We’re always looking at how we can change the program to meet students’ expectations,” Liz McCune, associate director of the MU News Bureau, said. “The program has changed overtime… now it’s in two parts, there’s the first session which is the more traditional introduction to our values and then there’s the second segment where students get to self-select what they’re interested in.”

Citizenship@Mizzou was originally created in the aftermath of the 2015 protests regarding racism on campus, which led to former MU president Tim Wolfe’s resignation. Three years after the protests, Citizenship continues to uphold its mission.

“Our goal from the beginning has been to create an orientation program to introduce students to our values,” McCune said. “We knew that we were doing a good job of helping students with logistics through Summer Welcome… and the logistics of being in college but we wanted to create an in person experience that would introduce students to the culture of Mizzou.”

The student response to Citizenship has been mixed, especially regarding the hour-long first session held during welcome week.

“I feel that the event just reiterated topics that I consider to be common sense,” freshman Lexi Kessler said. “It seemed to be a waste of time. It was a nice way to meet others during the short activities, but I feel like I gained nothing from the event.”

The first session included students drawing a pie chart with sections representing the different aspects that make up their experiences and a discussion about how these facets make them unique.

Despite Citizenship’s goal to be interactive with its message, freshmen have been finding the introductory program boring and dry.

“I think [Citizenship] has the potential to improve,” freshman Matt Hackmann said. “People have heard all this stuff before and it has to be more engaging if people are actually going to listen.”

The second session of Citizenship@Mizzou has seen a more positive response than its predecessor. Many students have appreciated the freedom of choosing their activities and enjoyed the events offered.

“It was a good movie,” freshman Quincy Kahn, who saw the documentary “Unrest” on Oct. 3, said. ”[The documentary] was about a woman with an invisible disease… that makes her extremely sleepy and causes other debilitating issues. I thought it was well done and interesting because it taught things about diseases and had a plot that pulled you in.”

McCune said that student responses through surveys about the programs have been positive and that much of Citizenship’s impact on campus can be seen in last year’s record retention of students.

“[The retention] was 87.3 percent which means that nearly 9 out of 10 freshmen last year decided to come back to the university as sophomores,” McCune said. “That tells us that students are finding their niche here at Mizzou and that they’re thriving.”

Although Citizenship@Mizzou has received some negative reviews, many freshmen on campus said they are settling in well and are finding the university to be a welcoming place.

“Once I found some people, friends and organizations I liked I felt much more at home. It just took a minute to get used to not being at home” freshman Andrea Barrera said.

College often seems daunting to freshman when they first arrive on campus, but many students are finding it easier to make friends and find their place at the university.

“I think that the campus provides a lot of different ways for everybody to get involved and feel appreciated,” freshman Hunter Hart said. “As long as you find what you like, it’s very easy to feel included.”

Emboldened by the changing attitudes on campus, Citizenship@Mizzou will continue to listen to student feedback in hopes of improving their program.

“We always want to be responsive to students and make sure that this program is meeting their needs and is successful in helping them feel welcomed to campus,” McCune said. “We want students to feel like they understand the culture here better, they understand the unique way they fit in and they feel empowered to reach beyond their social circle and meet new people.”

Edited by Caitlyn Rosen | crosen@themaneater.com

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