Mar 272012
Authors: Allison Sylte

The discussion regarding the proposed on-campus stadium is underway, and Martin Carcasson, an associate professor in the Department of Communication Studies and the director of CSU’s Center for Public Deliberation, has been in the thick of it.

As the director for the CPD, Carcasson has been conducting public forums about the issue alongside a staff of student associates and analyzing the climate of opinion surrounding the potentially divisive on-campus stadium proposal.

The Collegian caught up with Carcasson to hear his take on the stadium deliberation process:

How do you think the public forums went? Do you think they were effective?

Overall, I was very happy. I was happy that they went so well in the sense that it is a very polarized issue where people have a lot of assumptions about the process.

We normally don’t take on such polarized issues, especially when you have something based on “yes or no” answers, which can cause some difficulties in terms of how we look at a problem.

We had 260 people come through the forums, and we asked them what they thought about the proposal. A majority were very strongly tilted toward one side of the debate or other. Very few even said they were slightly for or against. The opinions were all really strong. From the feedback I’ve gotten, it seems like everyone really enjoyed the process and came away having learned a lot about the other side of the issue.

I know that the Center for Public Deliberation asked Jack Graham to come speak to students about the proposal, but not a member of the opposition. Do you think this impacted impartiality?

Typically when we’re prepping for an event, we try to make sure that students understand both sides of the issue. Since Jack is the one who came up with the argument for it, he came to the meeting and laid out some of his arguments for having the stadium, just so students could get a good sense of the argument for it.

We had three classes overall where we prepped for the public forums, and Jack coming was during the second half of the second period. I don’t think it affected them. I don’t think it biased them. We used lots of materials to help develop the background, and they were definitely well-versed in the ideology of the opposition.

A very, very small percentage of forum attendees thought the student mediators were remotely biased.

What else did Jack Graham talk about?

He talked about the overall process of the Stadium Advisory Committee. A lot of the time was spent with him answering questions from students about the proposal. Most of those questions were pushback or counterarguments to see how he would respond.

What has your interaction been like with other members of the Stadium Advisory Committee?

There hasn’t been much. I’ve served as a resource for the public engagement subcommittee and have had a couple of phone calls with them, giving them feedback about what they’ve been hearing so far.

Part of what that subcommittee will be doing at the next full committee meeting is presenting a report on their findings, and kind of summarizing the results of various surveys they’ve sent out.

To see the complete findings of the Center for Public Deliberation’s Public Forums, visit

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