Councilmembers established the San Marcos Youth Commission, a group of students who advise policymakers about issues affecting youth in the community, at a City Council meeting Tuesday.
The commission will be made up of 15 voting members who represent different kinds of youth in the city, according to Councilwoman Kim Porterfield, Place 1. One Texas State representative will link the work of public entities such as the city, county and school district with the university.
The commission is one of the first methods of implementing the “Youth Master Plan,” which has been an initiative of Porterfield’s. The Youth Master Plan aims to provide more opportunities for students at home, in the classroom and throughout the community by using various programs to promote health, education and civil engagement, she said.
“We’re a very youthful city, yet youth are not engaged in city business or they don’t really have a voice,” Porterfield said. “What I see this group doing is helping educate and help(ing) the adults who are in positions of power understand the value and the good ideas and the advice that youth can bring to the table.”
A youth advisory council, made up of self-appointed members, worked with Porterfield and her fellow councilmembers to create the ordinance establishing the commission, she said. The commission is set to have 15 voting representatives, and it will have a voluntary general membership similar to the youth advisory council.
“It’s always been an open thing,” Porterfield said. “We have a big diversity of people, of kids, and then we have four or five Texas state students that participate on that as well, as support.”
Erick del Angel, geography resource and environmental studies graduate student, served as the Associated Student Government liaison for City Council. He has contributed to the formation of the commission for the past year and a half, he said.
“It will be a good outlet for (students) to get involved in the community and volunteer and intern and kind of help them with their careers which start in college,” Del Angel said. “It’ll help obviously the whole program itself, getting participants and helping implement these programs, so it’s a mutual relationship.”
Parkland availability, bicycle lanes, job creation and voting are generally seen as student issues within the city, Porterfield said.
However, the diversity of the community leads to different perspectives on these issues, said Meghan Bates, public relations junior. Bates said she has worked on this project since her freshmen year and believes students and adults will benefit from the commission by learning to embrace another point of view.
“It’s easy for people to think that it’s just for kids, but I definitely see where the kids or the students and the adults alike are saying ‘wow I get where you’re coming from now,’ and I loved seeing that,” Bates said. “It’s been awesome seeing the middle ground come to be.”
The group has been officially established, but none of the representatives have been appointed yet. City Council will begin accepting applications within the next few weeks, Porterfield said.