By Jen Domagal-Goldman, National Manager, American Democracy Project
This year Constitution Day – September 17 – falls on a Saturday, so ADP campuses will be celebrating Constitution Day today, Friday, September 16 and throughout the weekend and into next week (others have been celebrating all this week).
Constitution Day, formally known as Constitution Day and Citizenship Day, commemorates the signing of the U.S. Constitution on September 17, 1787 and celebrates natural and naturalized American citizens.
Cal U's Kids Talk Democracy
In honor of Constitution Day, ADP colleges and universities have planned a plethora of educational events and activities. 28 campuses responded to our recent online query about planned Constitution Day programming; these responses are summarized below. I hope this post provides your campus with ideas for future Constitution Day programming!
For additional information about Constitution Day, please visit the ADP Website.
Let us know what your campus did to celebrate Constitution Day by commenting on this blog post or by emailing a short summary to firstname.lastname@example.org.
California University of Pennsylvania
Cal U is hosting sixth-grade students from Ben Franklin Elementary School, in Uniontown, Pennsylvania, for “Kids Talk Democracy II.” The video–a takeoff of Cecilia Orphan’s project–was so successful that the ADP decided to bring youngsters to campus. The students are being selected on the basis of class essays. Cal U is encouraging the entire university community to attend, but is especially interested in having Elementary Education majors hear and see the students. For more information, go here.
Clayton State University
Clayton State has a number of Constitution Day Observance Events planned, including a keynote address on “Slavery and the Constitution,” by the president of the Georgia Humanities Council; a Constitutional Debate staged by the Clayton State debate team on whether naturalized citizens should be allowed to be President of the U.S. and whether national officeholders should meet ethical qualifications; a New York Times Talk, “This Should Hurt Only a Little: The 8th Amendment and the Search for a Perfect Poison”; a service learning series discussion on public health; a community service project; a voter registration drive; and citizenship tests. For more information, go here.
Eastern Kentucky University
Eastern Kentucky will sponsor three events: a guest speaker, a Constitutional trivia contest, and a panel discussion of possible constitutional revisions. EKU wants to promote increased knowledge/awareness of constitutional provisions and controversies and increased campus engagement.
Emporia State University
Emporia State University will host a creative program on September 14th in Bruder Theater on the ESU campus. The improvisational comedy group called Zioks is wildly popular on our campus and the idea is to have Zioks go through comedy skits followed by comments from a panel of professors. ESU’s goals for Constitution Day are to raise awareness and promote deeper thought related to the U.S. Constitution. This year the American Democracy Project is collaborating with the Associated Student Government, Community Hornets, and Zoiks to provide Constitution Day programming. For more information on Zoiks, go here.
Ferris State University
Former U.S. Representative Pete Hoestra (Holland, Michigan) will conduct a public presentation concerning “9/11 Ten Years After” for the campus and the community. Ferris State hopes to engage students and the Big Rapids, MI community in reflection upon the aftermath of 9/11 and its impacts upon American democracy and the U.S. Constitution a decade later. The American Democracy Project and its Political Engagement Project are sponsoring this event.
Florida Gulf Coast University
We will be partnering with the community to offer our version of an Eat Free or Live Free event where students and community members give up their 1st Amendment rights in return for a free meal. Actors from the community will interact with attendees by having them experience life without these rights. The dinner will be followed by a sneak-peek of Ken Burns’ newest documentary: Prohibition and a panel discussion. FGCU hopes to foster knowledge of 1st Amendment rights and a discussion of the government’s role in our lives (past, present, and future). Student government, the Office of Service-Learning and Civic Engagement and WGCU are sponsoring these events. WGCU received a national grant from the National Center for Media Engagement to preview the Burns documentary.
A keynote address, Religion and the U.S. Constitution will be delivered by a law school dean. Several student organizations are developing a video-journalism project with a discussion. Georgia College wants students to understand how the U.S. Constitution’s separation of church and state and disestablishment clauses do not preclude the ongoing need to clarify the role of religion in American society. For more information, click here.
Illinois State University
We will have a guest speaker (Roger Newman from Columbia University). More information is available here. ISU is combining Constitution Day with their Civic Engagement Celebration where they present their Civic Engagement Award. ISU hopes to get students and faculty thinking about the importance of the U.S. Constitution.
Placards will be placed around campus with civic engagement questions; posters will be provided for students to answers these questions. Students will also be asked to enter their responses to the question “What is an American” in the Lander student center’s lobby. Lander University hopes to foster increased discussion and debate about American constitutional principles and an awareness of politics and how it matters. These events will also serve as a kick-off for a campus “Civility Initiative” that will feature speakers and events throughout the 2011-12 academic year.
Metropolitan State University
MSU’s 7th annual Constitution Day will include: a panel of “Constitutional Myth Busters: Fact, Fiction or Somewhere in between? With constitutional law professors, political scientists, and former state supreme court justices; a get your Constitution fun facts booklet and crossword puzzle – completed/correct puzzles will be drawn for prizes; a viewing of the video “Justice Matters” at the library twice a day for a week; a library display of Constitutional books, references, and resources; activities at the public library for k-12 students and their families. MSU’s goals include: increasing awareness of history of and living relevance of the U.S. constitution; having fun with history and growing knowledge in a community-based setting; including many partners in Constitution day events; highlighting the diversity and inclusiveness of our understanding and utilization of the U.S. Constitution in a metropolitan area; and building capacity across the university community for participating in the processes and procedures of a democratic society. Partners include: The Center for Community Based Learning (soon to be renamed the Institute for Civic Engagement and Scholarship), Metropolitan State University Library and Learning Center, Student Life and Leadership Development Office, Student Senate, GEMS, Leadership and Mentoring Program, The Metropolitan, student newspaper, University Activities Board, Diversity Learning Task Force, Fall Fest committee, and the Development Office’s 40th Anniversary event.
Middle Tennessee State University
MTSU’s Centennial Constitution Week’s theme is Constitutional Responsibility and Civil Society. MTSU has a number of programs planned including an exhibit on John Adams, a student art show with posters of Constitutional ideals, a panel discussion on John Adams: A Lasting Legacy, and a lecture on “Civility, the Constitution, and the Courts.” Students will be able to register to vote, to screen-print t-shirts with Constitution-inspired designs, and to print their own copies of the First Amendment on the University’s replica 18th century printing press. For more information, go here.
MTSU hopes to inspire increased student participation in, ownership of, and direct personal involvement with Constitution Day. They have planned a number of activities, starting with a commemoration of the 10th anniversary of the September 11 attacks, and including a voter registration drive, a Constitution Lecture, a symposium on understanding the immigrant experience; a Congress to Campus program, and an international policy conference on securing the future.
Missouri State University
Constitution Day will be part of a week-long group of activities within MSU’s Public Affairs Week. Specifically for Constitution Day we will have various students and administrators reading the Preamble and Bill of Rights of the Constitution in our food court of the student union. For more information, go here. Pocket Constitutions will also be distributed at this event. Also on this website there is a link to a Constitution Day “game” provided to us by a local banking institution. MSU wants students to be aware of the many faces that make up their community and of how the Constitution applies to everyone.
Northwestern State University
NSU will host a Constitution Day Panel Discussion with three professors and audience participation. An art class also produced posters with various themes related to the Constitution which will be displayed around campus. NSU hopes to foster campus and public engagement via discussion of vital Constitutional issues of the day and to via the impact of visual art (posters) with brief introduction by the art professor.
Stephen F. Austin State University
As part of Constitution Day celebrations, the American Democracy Project at Stephen F. Austin State University will host “The U.S. Constitution in a Post-9/11 World” at 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 15. Dr. Steve Galatas, ADP campus coordinator will serve as the moderator of a panel of SFA faculty members, from political science, criminal justice, and public administration. For more information, go here.
SUNY Brockport will host an on-campus naturalization ceremony. Brockport will also distribute the citizenship test to students and use campus media to promote the event in order to emphasize the importance of the Constitution.
Towson University will be celebrating the observed Constitution Week (September 16- 22) with a programmed event every day (except for the weekend). On Constitution Day (9/16/11), we will be tabling around campus, providing students with free pocket-sized Constitutions, encouraging them to fill out voter registration forms and spreading awareness on what is happening during Constitution Week. We will be engaging students in conversation and providing relevant prizes to those who answer our questions about the Constitution correctly. On September 19th, we are co-sponsoring the Federal Depository Library celebration in order to honor Towson’s library as a new depository for United States publications. On September 20th, we are co-sponsoring an event about Human Trafficking. There will be guest speakers present and focused on discussing human trafficking issues in the Baltimore area. On September 21st, we will be hosting a Talk Israel event with Hillel, celebrating the freedom of assembly, creating a welcoming venue that addresses the challenges ahead, stressing civil dialogue and inquiry. On September 22nd, there will be a book talk: Immigration and Women: Understanding the American Experience. Also, on the 22nd we will be hosting a New York Times Talk Lunch that focuses on freedom of religion in our country. Towson is focused primarily on empowering student to realize and utilize their individual rights and freedoms as citizens.
University of Arkansas – Fort Smith
The University of Arkansas – Forth Smith will host Constitution Week, September 12-16. Programming includes a talk by Eddie Armstrong about “Remembering 9/11,” and an open forum with panelists from legal firms, law enforcement, human resources, and marketing. Additional events include quiz bowls pitting students against university personnel, a voter registration drive, and opinion tables. For more information, go here.
University of Central Missouri
UCM will host a week of Constitution Day events, including a panel on International Student Perspectives on the U.S. Constitution, a discussion between the College Democrats and College Republicans on their views on amending the Constitution, a talk on predicting the 2012 Presidential Election outcomes, and a book talk on A More Perfect Constitution by Larry Sabato. There will also be a Constitution Trivia challenge and a Times Talk. UCM’s focus this year is on amendments. UCM wants students to understand that the Constitution changes through formal and informal ways and that they as citizens can have an active role in defining it. UCM also wants students to become more comfortable with civil discourse, and thus it has created several activities which will juxtapose different viewpoints of the Constitution, how it should be interpreted, and if and how it should be amended.
University of Central Oklahoma
The University of Central Oklahoma will participate in the Oklahoma Campus Compact voter registration contest September 12-16. In addition, we will send teams to the National Conference on Citizenship and the Campus Compact Heartland Conference with plans to coordinate a live feed from NCoC with small group discussions on campus. Last year we hosted a special naturalization ceremony on campus. We will do this again in 2012. This year we will focus on strengthening citizenship with the voter registration drive and the National Conference on Citizenship.
University of Maryland Baltimore County
UMBC will host a talk on civil rights and equality in multiracial America by Dr. Jane Junn of the University of Southern California. UMBC hopes to foster community engagement and an awareness of the ongoing relevance of constitutional issues.
University of Minnesota Duluth
UMD will host a week-long series of events including a film and discussion concerning the fine line between political speech/actions and those designed to incite violence, and a panel with local civic leaders. UMD will hand out pocket Constitutions and there will be quizzes on American Government and History for prizes, a library display, and a “What is Democracy?” wall. UMD wants to raise awareness about the Constitution and what it actually says as well as its influences on our everyday lives.
University of Nebraska at Omaha
UNO is planning three events the week of September 12-16. On September 12, a panel presentation by university political science and public administration faculty members will address the topic: “The Debt Ceiling and the Constitution”. On Tuesday September 13, Linda Duckworth of the Omaha chapter of the League of Women Voters will be portraying Susan B. Anthony and giving a presentation in the student center on her efforts to secure voting rights for women. On the September 16, Dr. Lucas Morel of Washington and Lee University will be giving a public lecture entitled: “Lincoln and the Constitution: A Unionist for the Sake of Liberty.” UNO hopes to increase students’ knowledge of the history and meaning of the U.S. Constitution and bring the campus and greater Omaha community together for dialogue about the Constitution and its historical and contemporary relevance.
University of Northern Iowa
Coleen Rowley, former FBI agent, and one of the 2002 Time Persons of the Year, is giving an evening presentation on how to maintain our civil liberties and fight terrorism, and is presenting at a half-day workshop for middle school students on the Constitution (on our campus), and is doing a session on ethics. Students in a leadership class have as their class project the task of designing a Constitution Day activity for 2012. UNI’s hope is to educate people, including students, about the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights.
University of Wisconsin Oshkosh
The University of Wisconsin Oshkosh will celebrate Constitution Day with a variety of activities and events including a Constitution Day dunk tank, the distribution of cupcakes and pocket Constitutions, reading aloud of the Constitution, and a lecture by U.S. Senator Ron Johnson. For more information, go here. Oshkosh wants to increase awareness of Constitutional issues and to increase knowledge of components of U.S. Constitution.
West Texas A&M University
West Texas A&M University will host Constitution Day at the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum attached to the university. 500+ school children will participate in activities involving a proposed constitutional amendment.
Western Carolina University
Western Carolina University has several events planned, including a Constitutional essay contest with the topic “Is/Should there be a constitutional right to a minimum level of subsistence?” and a public forum about the Constitution and poverty issues. Students will be dressing up in colonial attire and walking around campus passing out pocket Constitutions and asking trivia questions. For more information, go here. WCU wants to raise awareness about the importance of the Constitution, its foundations, and allow for critical thinking about how the Constitution applies to contemporary issues.
Western Illinois University
Western Illinois University will host a panel on the 4th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. WIU wants to help students learn about the context of the 4th Amendment and its current applications.
Western Kentucky University
WKU’s Constitution Week this year was themed “The Tenth Anniversary of 9/11: Lessons Learned.” Events included a lecture on “Lessons Not Learned from 9/11: An Economic, Numerate, Constitutional Perspective.” Other programming included a film about Muslim youth dealing with prejudice, diversity, and other 9/11 related issues, a student engagement fair with campus and community organizations, and a discussion about the “Perceptions and Realities of WKU Middle Eastern Students Post 9/11.” For a Constitution Week Wrap-up, go here. WKU’s Institute for Citizenship and Social Responsibility also hosted an American and Saudi Arabian exchange, where women from both cultures came together Monday night to discuss topics such as what it’s like to be a Muslim woman, women’s rights, marriage, and cultural stereotypes. For more about the exchange, go here.
William Paterson University
William Paterson University is hosting their seventh annual public address on a current topic of controversy with Constitutional dimensions. This year: USA Inc(arcerated): Crime, Punishment & the Constitution with a speaker from the Center for Constitutional Rights and two expert faculty members from our campus. WPU seeks to raise the level of awareness of the crime and punishment provisions of the U.S. Constitution and connect them to the problem presented by the problem of mass incarceration in the U.S., i.e. the U.S. has the highest incarcerations rates of any capitalist democracy in the world. We are also commencing the event with a moment of silence to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the tragic events of September 11, 2001.
Winona State University
Winona State is hosting Harry Boyte on Monday, September 19 for an address on the “We the People” initiative on college campuses and in local communities and active citizenship and engagement for pubic learning and scholarship. In addition Winona State will distribute pocket constitutions and a replica of the U.S. Constitution will be on display in the Library Rotunda. We have also extended Constitution day events to contribute and co-sponsor a presentation on Monday, September 25, 2011 by Dr. Dan Byman of Georgetown University on the Arab Spring. Winona State wants as many university and community members to attend, with the hopes of encouraging more interest and involvement in the We the People and ADP events, especially in the development of civic agency in the university and surrounding communities.
Let us know what your campus did to celebrate Constitution Day by commenting on this blog post or by emailing a short summary to email@example.com.