Our City. Our Campus. Our Community.

Fort Hays State University

June 28, 2018

Civic Learning and Democratic Engagement (CLDE) means promoting the education of students for engaged citizenship through democratic participation in their communities, respect and appreciation of diversity, applied learning and social responsibility. The CLDE focus area supports discussion, educational programming, and professional development to help student affairs professionals provide students with the knowledge, skills, and abilities to make a difference in their communities. To enhance and develop your understanding of CLDE, this focus area shares information from NASPA’s LEAD Initiative, knowledge communities, NASPA conferences and events, and research and publications.

Our City. Our Campus. Our Community. Fort Hays State University and Hays, Kansas community partners have strategically come together to build connections to create a better community.  We have learned that developing a culture of civic learning and engagement starts with the relationships we foster between stakeholders.  One of our first strategies was to develop a Town and Gown Committee comprised of campus administrators and key community leaders; Chamber of Commerce, Hays Convention and Visitors Bureau, Police Department, City Office, Downtown Hays Development Center, and many more community partners.  While we have learned building relationships is vital to civic engagement, we will not prosper without devoting time to the relationships, community and campus challenges, and community and campus needs. We have devoted time to discuss, identify, and brainstorm strategic educational and social experiences which will foster respect, responsibility, and support for our city and campus. A couple of examples of experiences we partner together on are March2Main, Party Smart Program, and Tiger Gold on Friday.. Each of these initiatives is a collective effort to resolve a challenge or concern that occurs because of the town and gown relationship.

When our college students return to the campus in the fall, our new students struggle to navigate their new community or understand how to access local resources. March2Main is an initiative which helps engage and introduce new students from Fort Hays State University, Hays Hair Academy, and North Central Kansas Technical College with local business and resources. All new students from the three institutions are invited to explore and learn about their new community. Our Party Smart program was developed as a collaborative initiative between the Student Government Association and the City of Hays Police Department in order to educate students about local drinking laws, noise ordinances, and create channels of communication between off-campus residents, campus resources, and community resources. Lastly, in order to instill more campus and community pride as well as bridge the relationship between campus and local business, Tiger Gold on Friday was created. On Fridays, local partner businesses will provide discounts to those wearing gold at their stores. Additionally, alumni are able to celebrate Tiger Gold on Fridays and celebrate their Fort Hays Pride.  In each of these initiatives, the campus and community came together to resolve an issue they saw jointly. These relationships are critical for foster a positive, respectful, and responsive town-gown relationship.

Ultimately, the Town and Gown committee has created the initial opportunity for relationships to form creating a web of connection with knowledge, skills, resources, and momentum to build a cohesive community. From sharing the past and generating new ideas, the conversation is happening and relationships are forging. Our goal is to continue to bring voices to the table to help make a difference in our community.


  • Taylor Kriley, Director of Inclusion & Diversity Excellence, Fort Hays State University
  • Maryke K.  Taute, Associate Director of Residential Life, Fort Hays State University

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