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Two UW-Eau Claire Students Selected to Lead Civic Engagement Efforts

RELEASED: Aug. 30, 2005

Jonathan Radcliffe and Avril Flaten
Jonathan Radcliffe and Avril Flaten have been selected as 2005-06 Student Civic Leadership Fellows. (Photo by Rick Mickelson, LTS)

EAU CLAIRE — University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire juniors Avril Flaten, Eau Claire, and Jonathan Radcliffe, Lakeville, Minn., will join 13 other students from Wisconsin colleges selected as 2005-06 Student Civic Leadership Fellows by Wisconsin Campus Compact and the Upper Midwest Campus Compact Consortium.

Both organizations are part of the National Campus Compact, a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting community service in higher education.

Flaten, who is majoring in history with a minor in religious studies, was nominated for the honor by Dr. Mickey Crothers, associate professor of psychology at UW-Eau Claire. Crothers met Flaten when they were both appointed to the Search and Screen Committee that will be working over the upcoming year to recruit a new chancellor for UW-Eau Claire. In her nomination letter, Crothers wrote that Flaten is an outstanding scholar, has strong leadership skills, has demonstrated an exceptional willingness to work hard in leadership roles, and is an innovative thinker able to entertain and generate creative solutions.

"In the short time I have known Avril, I have been impressed with her keen thinking and her ability to express her ideas with confidence and clarity," wrote Crothers. "I am perhaps most deeply impressed by her record of service and her high level of motivation. I think she is exactly the kind of student who can benefit greatly from participation in the Civic Leadership Fellows Program, and I am equally certain that she will make contributions that will enrich the experience of other participants."

Flaten has served in numerous capacities on the Student Senate since 2002, including a stint as Eau Claire City Council Liaison Officer from 2002 to 2003. She is currently director of the Academic Affairs Commission and the student representative to the Arts and Sciences Curriculum Committee. She is also a member of and/or officer for several honor societies and service fraternities and was honored with Student Leadership Awards in 2003 and 2004.

Radcliffe, who is a political science major, was nominated by Dr. Rodd Freitag, associate professor of political science. Freitag said that when Radcliffe was a student in his "American National Politics" class, he could see that Radcliffe took his civic responsibilities seriously, followed current events closely and engaged intellectually with the major issues of the day.

"But as I got to know Jonathan better, I realized that his sense of civic duty goes much further than that," said Freitag. "During his relatively brief time as a student at UW-Eau Claire, Jonathan has been very actively involved in campus governance. He has a strong desire to make a positive contribution."

In his first two months as a student senator, Radcliffe wrote four pieces of legislation and contributed to many others. He said he is proud of the fact that all of those initiatives were successful. He was also active in the Progressive Student Association and involved in many projects aimed at promoting students' rights and benefits, including a hunger strike to call for a tuition freeze.

The Student Civic Leadership Fellows program supports and promotes students as powerful student leaders, and one of Flaten's and Radcliffe's first duties as leadership fellows will be to join the 13 other Wisconsin fellows, along with another 30 students selected from colleges in Minnesota and Iowa, at the third annual Student Civic Leadership Institute, to be held Sept. 15-18 at Wakonda Boy Scout Camp in Central City, Iowa.

The students gathering in Iowa will learn about the civic engagement movement taking place in higher education across the country, consider the responsibilities of citizenship, and work together to develop action plans for providing leadership for civic engagement on their own campuses. In preparation for the conference, they were asked to read "The New Student Politics: The Wingspread Statement on Civic Engagement," which documents how 33 juniors and seniors from colleges and universities across the country defined service, politics and civic engagement at the Wingspread Summit on Student Civic Engagement, held in March 2001 at the Johnson Foundation in Racine.

Flaten said that her older brother, who was vice-president of the student body when she was a freshman, encouraged her to get involved in student government and engage with the larger community. During her last three years of involvement, she said she has come to agree with him about the need for strong student leaders.

"At the conference, I hope to learn new strategies to try and help students become more active in issues affecting campus/college life, but also in other areas, such as community, state-wide, national or even global issues," Flaten said.

Radcliffe agreed.

"I want to learn how to be a better, more successful student leader," said Radcliffe. "As a stronger leader I would like to arrest the notion that students are apathetic by acting as a uniting force, inspiring those around me to work harder for a set goal."

Donald Mowry, director of the Center for Service-Learning at UW-Eau Claire, said this effort complements other campus efforts that work to dispel the notion that today's students are disengaged because of disillusionment with politics or the government.

"We are proud of the fact that UW-Eau Claire has been a leader in promoting service-learning and was a charter member of the Wisconsin Campus Compact," said Mowry. "Avril and Jonathan are shining examples of our Service-Learning Mission to prepare students for a life of informed, ethical, responsible and active citizenship."

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