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Panel To Address Huntsville's 'Hot Topic'

April 18, 2012
SHSU Media Contact: Jennifer Gauntt

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A panel of SHSU faculty, staff and a student will address the “hot topic” of Huntsville’s recent ballot initiative to extend the city's boundaries to sell liquor on Tuesday (April 24).

The Hot Topics program "Wet or Dry? Involving Students in Huntsville's Alcohol Laws" will be from 3-4:40 p.m. in the Lowman Student Center Theater.

The interactive discussion will include panelists James Fitch, a Huntsville city councilman at large and deputy chief of SHSU’s University Police; Mike Yawn, clinical professor of political science; Bill Green, former Huntsville mayor and economics professor; and Tyler Eberhart, president of the Student Government Association.

The program is intended to provide a background on the recent initiative and help students understand the role the SGA had played in getting the laws changed in 1972, according to Tracy Steele, chair elect of SHSU’s faculty senate and associate professor of history.

When Huntsville went from “dry” to “wet” in 1972, the liquor license law was not written in such a way as to include any parts of town incorporated after 1972. Hence, Elkins Lake is “dry,” Steele said.

The recent petition was expected to be approved because the petition received more than 500 additional signatures required to place the item on the November ballot.

“In the end, however, more than 500 signatures were disqualified, for various reasons such as the signatories did not live in the county,” Steele said. “Still, I think that this will be a fascinating panel; SGA has worked hard on this initiative and it has wide support among community leaders.

“This panel will look at why so many diverse groups support the measure, why it failed, and explore ways for the city and the university to work closely on this and other issues in the future.”

Yawn is an expert on local politics and knows the mechanics of getting petitions passed; Fitch will speak to the issue of the failed petition not only as a member of the SHSU police but also as a city councilman; as former mayor, Green will speak about the city-university relationship in general; and Eberhart will speak about about what SGA has done under his leadership to improve relations with the city including sending a representative to attend their meetings.

“I think this topic will be of interest to students to see how they can play a role in local politics,” Steele said. “The city would also like to encourage students to play a greater role in Huntsville and to consider building a future in the town after graduation.”

The Hot Topics series discussions, which are free and open to the public, are hosted by the SHSU Political Engagement Project, in conjunction with the American Democracy Project and the College of Humanities and Social Sciences.

Previous “Hot Topics” presentations have covered the Middle East, “Healthcare in America,” “Perspectives on China,” and human trafficking.

For more information, contact Steele at his_tls@shsu.edu or 936.294.1480.



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