Students to read U.S. Constitution publicly

Students to read U.S. Constitution publicly
Wednesday, September 11, 2019

On Tuesday, Sept. 17, from 11 a.m. to noon, students will gather at the Star Quad to take turns reading the U.S. Constitution. All are welcome at the event, which is the University’s annual commemoration of Constitution Day.

“We want this reading of the Constitution to start discussion among students about their constitutional rights and about the structure of our government,” said Kathleen Nicolaides, director of the Legal Studies Minor and pre-law advisor. 

“Ideally, students will become aware of underlying themes in the Constitution, one of which is accountability, and that power is not in one branch of government, but is shared among the branches,” said Nicolaides. “We want people to discuss what it means that certain branches have certain powers.”

Students will be invited to the microphone to read a passage from the document. Other students will hand out pocket copies of the Constitution for participants to take home.

“The bottom line is that we want students to read and talk about the Constitution with the document in hand,” Nicolaides said. “There is something about having your own copy of the document that brings it to life, as you reflect on what the document says, and what it actually means.”

Constitutional scholars consider that the document still works more than two centuries after it was drafted, because it is “alive” in many ways. It is not a static document, having been drastically modified by amendment, judicial interpretation and the nation’s evolution. The Constitution protects individual rights and lays down the foundation on how the government will work. It gives citizens the power to take action, which limits the power the government has over the people. It establishes a system of checks and balances among the branches of government.

Constitution Day, also called Citizenship Day, is a federal observance that recognizes the adoption of the U.S. Constitution and those who have become United States citizens. It is celebrated officially on Sept. 17, the date in 1787 when delegates to the Constitutional Convention met to sign the document they created.

The Star Quad is located between the Barnhardt Student Activity Center and Atkins Library. In the event of rain, the event will be in the Cone University Center, After Hours Lounge. The Legal Studies Minor, the Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology and the Office of Academic Affairs are sponsors of this Constitution Day event.