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ADP in the News | September 24th Edition

By Caitlin Reilly, Program Associate, American Democracy Project 

ADP in the News is a compilation of brief updates about American Democracy Project activities at ADP colleges and universities and is a semi-regular news feature on our blog. Below you will find the latest edition of this series.

If you have an ADP event you’d like posted in this format, please email


From Indiana State University:

  • Indiana State’s American Democracy Project to Host Congressional Candidate Forum On September 18, 2014 the American Democracy Project hosted a forum for the 8th District congressional candidates. Read more here.
  • Democracy Project to Show 9/11 Film The American Democracy Project hosted a screening of the documentary “102 Minutes that Changed America” in commemoration of September 11, 2001. Read more here.


Weber State University (Utah) Debates Same-Sex Marriage as Part of Constitution Week

As a part of their Constitution Week celebration, the American Democracy Project at Weber State hosted a debate on the constitutionality of same-sex marriage. Read more here.


President Hynes First Recipient of Gene Hatfield Annual Service Award

Clayton State University (Ga.) has created the Gene Hatfield Annual Service Award in honor of former history professor and American Democracy Project director, Gene Hatfield. Clayton’s president, Tim Hynes is the first recipient of the award. Read more here.


Northern Arizona University

To commemorate Constitution Day, Northern Arizona University (NAU) sponsored Project Civil Discourse conversations in two locations, Flagstaff and Sedona. Project Civil Discourse is a statewide consortium of civil discourse organizations. On September 18 communities discussed two ballot propositions, one which addresses therapies available to terminally-ill patients (Proposition 303), and another which addresses state sovereignty (Proposition 122).

NAU also organized a post-primary candidate forum for city council and mayoral candidates in Flagstaff. Students had an opportunity to meet with candidates in small groups and ask them questions. Representatives from the Friends of Flagstaff’s Future talked to students about the importance of voting in the November election. Read more here.


University of Missouri – St. Louis

UMSL organized a series of events to celebrate Constitution Day – including a speech competition, a screening and discussion of the documentary “Restrepo,” a lecture on American military power and paintings by UMSL students. You can read more about these events here and here.



Constitution Day 2014

By Caitlin Reilly, Program Associate, The American Democracy Project

Every year American Democracy Project campuses across the country celebrate the anniversary of the signing of the United States Constitution. Constitution Day falls on September 17th each year, and this year we are celebrating the 227th anniversary of the document’s signing.

Here are some of the activities planned on ADP campuses. Don’t forget to share your own plans in the comment section!

California State University, Sacramento has planned a full week of activities, including a Constitution Quiz Bowl contest that rewards students’ constitution knowledge with prizes.  For more information, check out their website.

Emporia State University (Kan.) has partnered up with the social science faculty. Together they are building on what it has done in previous years and have invited high school students to campus to work with faculty and students for the day. Last year they had participants come from as far away at 300 miles.

Ferris State University (Mich.) has teamed up with the College Democrats, College Republicans and the Young Americans for Liberty to hand out pocket Constitutions to students. They will also have laptops available for students to register to vote through AASCU partner TurboVote.  To learn more about Ferris State’s Constitution Day activities, visit their website. For more ideas on how to implement TurboVote visit their implementation blog.

Fort Hays State University (Kan.) would like to make students more familiar with the Bill of Rights. Accordingly, they will be passing out pocket Constitutions and encouraging students to make buttons displaying their favorite amendments.

Georgia College has planned two panels, a radio show, a lecture and a Times Talk discussion, in order to educate students on the three branches of government, constitutional rights and the role of federal judiciary review, and discussing diversity in American jurisprudence and public policy.  To learn more, please visit their website.

Illinois State University has planned a panel discussion called, “Have Americans Lost the Right to Counsel?” The discussion will engage students about the right to legal counsel and due process, as well as the challenges of guaranteeing this constitutional right.

Indiana State University has planned a Pizza and Politics Discussion on the rights and responsibilities of citizens.

Keene State College (N.H.) has asked the author of The Last of the Doughboys, Richard Rubin to give a talk on campus. Learn more here.

Kennesaw State University has a week full of activities planned. Activities include a voting drive, featuring TurboVote, and talks about hunger and urban agriculture. Learn more here.

Metropolitan State University (Minn.) has asked students, faculty and staff to wear “We the People” t-shirts all day on the 17th.  They have also distributed free Constitution booklets and plan to host a screening of the documentary, North Star: Minnesota’s Black Pioneers.

Metropolitan State University of Denver (Col.) will hold a public forum, to commemorate the adoption of the Constitution and the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act.

Minot State University (N.D.) plans to engage students in a discussion on important civic issues and how to vote in November, through a Free Speech Plaza and by distributing information on the voting process.

Missouri State University has a number of things planned, including a presentation from author and speaker Mike Dilbeck, a screening of the documentary Invisible War, a patriotic song recital and a Constitutional trivia night.  They will also set up TurboVote registration tables across campus throughout the week, where students can register to vote, obtain absentee ballots and get text or email reminders via the TurboVote and university co-branded website (learn more about TurboVote here).  They will also release constitutional facts and quizzes hourly via their social media sites. Learn more on their website.

Northwestern State University (La.) plans to host a voting registration drive and a special presentation on Native American civil rights.

Ramapo College of New Jersey plans to honor the day with visits from New Jersey state senate president, Steve Sweeney, state senate majority leader, Loretta Weinber, and former governor Jim Florio. The campus will also serve Constitution Day birthday cake, hold a TurboVote sign up and receive a visit from “Ben Franklin” at their club fair.

St. Cloud State University (Minn.) will host a trivia event and an evening celebration in honor of the day. Learn more here.

Stephen F. Austin State University (Texas) will host a forum called, “Is the Constitution in Crisis?” They will also erect a Democracy Wall with questions aimed at sparking comment and debate among students, faculty and staff.

SUNY Cortland will host its annual Constitution Day lecture; this year’s is “The Constituting Constitution and How to Reconstitute It.”

The College at Brockport (SUNY) hopes to demonstrate the value of American citizenship by hosting an on-campus naturalization ceremony, with 60 to 70 of people who are soon to be America’s newest citizens.

The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey has several activities planned, including national speakers, films, dialogues and a visit to the National Constitution Center. National Public Radio’s legal correspondent Nina Totenberg will be their keynote speaker.  Learn more on their website.

University of Missouri – St. Louis plans to offer special menu options in the cafeteria, along with a music and spoken word program. Students can also participate by sharing what “We the People” means to them through the six-word project.

Washington State University Vancouver has planned to table on the quad, where they will offer cupcake decorating, a constitutional quiz, pocket Constitutions, a banned book exhibit, voter registration opportunities and an “Ask a Constitutional Scholar” booth.

Weber State University (Utah) has a whole week of events planned, beginning with First Amendment Day on Monday.  The campus will also host Kevin Quealy form The New York Times, and hold a constitutional debate on same sex marriage and a Constitution Quiz Show.

West Texas A&M University has set up a Constitution Day at the campus museum, which they have opened to K-12 students. They plan to close the day with a naturalization ceremony. Learn more on their website.

Western Carolina University (N.C.) plans to hand out copies of the Constitution and host a panel discussing the national and state constitutions. Learn more here.

Winona State University (Minn.) has invited Richard Arenberg, author of Defending the Filibuster, to launch their Lyceum series with a talk.

2014 Constitution Day is September 17


In less than a month, colleges and universities across the country will commemorate the signing of the U.S. Constitution on September 17, 1787.

Although educational institutions in the United States that receive federal funding must observe Constitution Day, the real reason we celebrate it is to memorialize the creation of our democracy. What was penned in this document has been fought for and protected by courageous men and women decade after decade, and it has inspired countries around the world to draft similar documents. Together, we continuously work to forge a more perfect union.

This annual holiday is a day to pause and reflect on the birth of our democracy.

And this post is a reminder that Constitution Day is coming up on Wednesday, September 17, 2014.

If you need a little inspiration and want to read what some of your ADP colleagues did last year to commemorate Constitution Day, check out this blog entry or this one.

If you are in need of resources, please visit our ADP resource page on Constitution Day.

And finally, if you already know what you are doing, we would love to hear about it. Please take just a moment to fill out this short survey about your plans. With this information, we will create a summary of 2014 Constitution Day activities and events to share with ADP participants and friends. Your response will be an invaluable contribution.

Highlights from a Month Ago Today (i.e., Constitution Day 2013)

A month ago today, we celebrated Constitution Day, and we wanted to take a moment to share with you a couple of cool things from our campuses, as well as what the National Constitution Center was up to.

Florida Gulf Coast University, sent us this video, highlighting one of its Constitution Day events.

And, The College at Brockport held an ADP-sponsored on-campus Naturalization Ceremony; for more information and pictures of the event, click here.

The National Constitution Center (who you should totally follow on Instagram at @constitutionctr) hosted a photo contest that invited people to share their photos of what being an active citizen means to them using #NCCActiveCitizen on Instagram and Twitter, Some pretty cool pics resulted; be sure to check them out.

What ADP Campuses Do on Constitution Day

At the end of August, we emailed our ADP campus coordinators to inquire how their campuses were celebrating Constitution Day (which is tomorrow by the way), and today, we bring you some of the results.

2013 Constitution Day Query Results

What we wanted to know:

  1. What plans does your campus have to celebrate and/or educate students this Constitution Day?
  2. What goals and/or learning outcomes do you have for your planned Constitution Day programming?
  3. Who or what organization on your campus is responsible for planning and implementing Constitution Day celebrations or educational events/programs? What other campus organizations/departments are involved or consulted?
  4. What resources do you plan to use (campus, community, or national) for Constitution Day activities and events?
  5. Website related to Constitution Day (if there is one) and fliers, agendas, or additional materials

@ Missouri State:

  1. We will have David Mercer, First Assistant Federal Defender for the Western District of Missouri, who will speak in a public forum titled “Gideon v. Wainwright: Legal Issues and the Right to Counsel.”  We will also be posting “Fascinating Constitution Facts” hourly  throughout the day on our Facebook and university webpage.  These will include a constitution quiz, as well as the facts.  We will also be conducting a voter registration drive throughout the week, encouraging students to register to vote and exercise their constitutional rights.  Constitution Day is always a part of our Annual Public Affairs Week– a week of activity developed by students for students.
  2. For our students to understand and participate actively in exercising their constitutional rights
  3. The Office of Public Affairs Support is ultimately in charge of the celebration.  We work in collaboration with our Office of Student Engagement.
  4. We have used resources provided by the ADP.  We also are working together with the Springfield Metropolitan Bar Association, which is sponsoring and hosting our speaker.
  5.; interesting facts and the quiz will be located on our Facebook Page Public Affairs at Missouri State University

@ Metropolitan State University of Denver:

  1. Metropolitan State University of Denver will celebrate Constitution Day by hosting a public educational forum featuring a member of the history department faculty, a representative from the ACLU and Mark Ferrandino, Speaker of the Colorado House of Representatives.
  2. Participants will have the opportunity to reflect on the history of religious liberty, from what the founders originally envisioned to how the issues play out today with respect to church, state and lawmaking, .
  3. The history department at MSU Denver has collaborated with the Community College of Denver and the University of Colorado Denver to organize our Constitution Day event.
  4. We will be using campus facilities for Constitution Day activities.

@ Illinois State University:

  1. We have planned an event featuring U.S. District Judge Michael P. McCuskey who will be discussing “The Constitutional Law of Mandatory Minimum Federal Sentences: How Congress has Diminished Judicial Discretion in Sentencing.”
  2. We hope to engage students in a discussion about  the role of each branch of government in federal sentencing and about the larger question of separation of powers.
  3. The American Democracy Project leadership team at Illinois State University is responsible for planning this Constitution Day event. The Office of the Provost is also very involved in the planning process.
  4. We plan to use campus resources for this event.

@ St. Cloud State University:

  1. Our ADP is sponsoring two tables in the student union mall area, in which social studies majors will be conducting a survey of students knowledge of the Constitution and a brief competition.  We have patriotic pins, bracelets, pens, necklaces and pocket constitutions etc. to give to all who participate.
  2. We want to see what the average student on our campus knows about the U.S. Constitution and will print our findings in the school paper.  If the numbers are low, we plan on lobbying the administration for more civic education courses/programs.
  3. The School of Public Affairs, our ADP and the Social Studies Education Program
  4. All resources will come from our own campus.

@ University of Minnesota Duluth:

  1. We are passing out pocket constitutions to students while dressed in colonial-era clothing.  We have a booth for people to register to vote.  We are hosting a panel discussion featuring politicians and other public figures to look at the issue of voter ID laws in order to help students and community members gain a well-rounded perspective on the issue.
  2. We hope that our events, especially the panel, will help to educate our community about the issue of voter ID laws. We hope that by presenting all sides of the issue, attendees will be able to make informed decisions. We hope that this panel will help our community members become more engaged in the political process, and we hope that this will help to create dialogue about the issue on campus and in the community.
  3. Office of Civic Engagement  Center for Ethics and Public Policy  Minnesota Public Interest Research Group
  4. Departmental Funds, Campus Facilities

@ University of Missouri – St. Louis:

  1. Our campus will discuss student activism on college campuses and how use of First Amendment rights is changing with the introduction of varying types of technology and emerging social media opportunities.
  2. Our goal is to connect current students with faculty, students and alumni who have been or are currently involved in some form of community or political activism and discuss the importance of engagement with one’s government processes in order to make an impact in the immediate community and beyond. We will also provide small-group discussion opportunities so that participants may network with others.
  3. Department of Political Science, Office of Community Outreach & Engagement, Volunteer Services, Office of Student Life, Department of Public Policy Administration
  4. Campus and community

@ Kennesaw State University:

  1. We have Constitution Week for the seventh year in a row. Our theme this year is Sustainability. We will be have three experts
  2. Understanding of Sustainability issues such as GMO’s, city planning, resource allocations, hunger, food shortage and community organizing
  3. KSU American Democracy Project, The Chicago Council on Global Affairs, Institute of Responsible Technology, KSU Department of Sustainability, Morehouse College School of Medicine

@ California University of Pennsylvania:

  1. General Colin Powell is the keynote speaker at the  Pittsburgh Leadership & Diversity Conference, which is being held on Septemebr 19 at Cal U.   Constitution Day is a tribute to Gen. Powell’s leadership.
  2. Constitution Day will educate students about the duties and responsibilities of presidential appointees, specifically the office of secretary of state and chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.  The primary focus will be on Gen. Powell’s leadership in both pubic and private life.
  3. The following offices and programs are involved in the planning of this year’s Constitution Day:  the American Democracy Project, the Linda and Harry Serene Leadership Institute, the Office of the Provost/Academic Affairs, the College of Liberal Arts, the Department of History & Political Science and the Department of Justice, Law & Society.
  4. Campus facilities will be used.
  5. The event is posted on the ADP website  Next week, it will appear on the Cal U homepage carousel and a press release will be issued.

@ Ferris State University

  1. Ferris State University is conducting a panel discussion on the First Amendment freedom of freedom of speech.
  2. 1). Students learn the meaning of freedom of speech  2). Students learn the challenges for protecting this freedom  3). Students learn the importance of protecting this freedom
  3. The Ferris State University American Democracy Project and Political Engagement Project
  4. 1). Ferris campus facilities  2). Ferris informational media  3). University educational experts

@ Florida Gulf Coast University:

  1. Conversations on the Constitution: Voting Rights Act Reconsidered (Panel discussion and dialogue of how the SCOTUS decision impacts FL), and the  SGA will pass out pocket constitutions
  2. De-mystify basic constitutional principles, encourage students to consider the constitutional significance of the recent SCOTUS decision relating to the VRA of 1965
  3. Office of Undergraduate Studies  &  Interdisciplinary Studies
  4. Campus

@ Middle Tennessee University

  1. SCALES – Tenn, Supreme Court Advancing Legal Education  – is coming to MTSU, holding court on campus, hearing three supreme court cases. All briefs are posted to the ADP MTSU website for students and faculty. Classes are studying the issues with members of the Tenn. Bar Assn. in preparation for court. The arguing attorneys will debrief the students after the hearing. Students will meet the Supreme Court justices over lunch and at the end of the day.  2. Read-aloud Constitution readings in every college.  3. Campus-wide debate on immigration issues that night.   4. Voter registration all over campus that day and on 9/24, in conjunction with LWV, Tenn. Citizen Action, and campus student orgs.
  2. Knowledge, visibility
  3. ADP, all deans of all the colleges, Forensics Team, College Dems and Raider Repubs, Provost’s Office, Center for Historic Preservation, the university lawyer-faculty from every college and EXL faculty
  4. Campus + community

@ Weber State University:

  1. We are planning a week of activities:

    • September 16 – Voter registration booth
    • September 17 – Birthday Cake and handing out constitutions
    • September 18 – video presentation of student knowledge of the Constitution (based on a kind of Jay-walking)
    • September 19 – NYT reporter Brian Stelter will be on campus presenting on Social Media’s Impact on Governments 
    • September 20 – Senator Mike Lee will be coming to speak to students

  2. Increase awareness of the Constitution and its part in our history.
  3. American Democracy Project; co-hosting with the NYT for our Reporter and the Olene Walker Institute for Senator Mike Lee
  4. National, campus and statewide.

Additionally, we hear that there is a Constitution Day essay contest in the works at the University of North Georgia, and we have agreed to host the winning essay on our blog, so be sure to stay tuned for that.

With that, we wish you all a very happy (and for Colorado, a very dry) Constitution Day tomorrow! And, if you’re wearing colonial-era clothing, please send us pics (to Stephanie at; in fact, please just send us cool Constitution Day photos in general.




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