While July 4, the holiday honoring the United States’ Declaration of Independence from Britain, is normally celebrated with great displays of patriotism and typically “American” things such as hamburgers, flags and colorful explosions, Sept. 17 is usually just another day. However, this seemingly inconsequential date is the anniversary of the initial adoption of the U.S. Constitution,
Many Americans seem to have only a basic knowledge of the document and its national significance, despite the fact that it has governed the nation for over two hundred years.
However, the Shorter community seems adamant to help remedy this ignorance. For the third year in a row, faculty members and students in the History Club organized a special program of events to celebrate the Constitution.
Specifically, they prepared for the Constitution to be read out loud in the front circle to anyone who would listen. This oral exhibition was then followed by a special presentation and discussion regarding the Supreme Court’s recent rulings regarding same-sex marriage and the Constitution.
Assistant professor of political science Rick Crawford notes that, while “any institution that receives federal funding is supposed to recognize Constitution Day,” the purpose of the commemoration goes beyond this technical obligation.
“The basic purpose” Crawford said, “is just to recognize…how it applies to our everyday lives.”
Elle Ryan, a sophomore history major and member of the History Club, said that she was thrilled by the events, and especially by the reading of the Constitution “because that’s what they did back (when it was written). That’s one thing I have found to be meaningful.”
Ryan also comments that publicly honoring the Constitution is significant in that it helps “stand as a reminder of what we were founded upon.”
Similarly, junior communication major Merilee Lavilla remarks that she thinks the honoring of Constitution Day at Shorter “was such an awesome idea because our Constitution is beautiful and holds our rights and freedoms in it. I think it’s very important for everyone to know what the Constitution says and to develop a deep appreciation for it.”
In some ways, too, the events of Constitution Day and their respective turnouts seem to reflect the state of political activity among students today.
In regard to political involvement among students, Crawford comments that at Shorter, “most young people are not that interested in politics, but we are not the exception.” In fact, there seems to be an overall trend toward apathy among most young adults across the country. This, Crawford claims, “is because they don’t see government as relative to their lives.”
Ryan has also made similar observations among her peers, saying, “I feel like a lot of students don’t know how to get involved or they don’t see the point. I’m afraid they might be getting to the point where they don’t really care about politics.”
This tendency toward nonparticipation, however, does not seem to be hopeless. Lavilla said that she has “come across a lot of students on Shorter’s campus who truly do care about politics, and that is awesome.”
Furthermore, Crawford adds that “what excites me is that if young people get engaged in politics, they can carry that on as they go into the world and start families of their own.”