Students rallied around Hunsaker Plaza on Tuesday, Sept. 19, to commemorate Constitution Day, a federal holiday recognizing the anniversary of the signing of the U.S. Constitution in Philadelphia on Sept. 17, 1987. As Constitution Day fell on a weekend, it was postponed two days to increase student involvement and turnout. With a microphone placed in the center of the plaza beyond an array of chairs for spectators, participants took to the stage and read passages from the U.S. Constitution. Lunch hours brought an influx of people that made speakers anxious, yet all triumphantly recited the words that built the founding of our country.
By law, federally funded educational institutions are required to hold a program to teach about Constitution Day. There is no mandate on how this is facilitated and many institutions will have faculty members in appropriate fields, such as history or political science, center their curriculum around the holiday. Political science professors Renée Van Vechten, Ph.D., and Arthur Svenson, Ph.D., capitalized on this opportunity to thoughtfully engage students in a unique way by expanding students’ learning beyond the classroom.
Van Vechten expressed hope that the event would shine a new light on the document, stating, “We want people to understand that these aren’t static words; they live in action and imagination. We imagine what the words mean, but they’re vague and have greater meaning when read out loud, where we can recognize them in a different way.”
If there was a single message participants should take away from the event, Van Vechten told the crowd, it was that the Constitution “might have been written by a whole bunch of white guys, but it’s ours.”
Photo by Aspen Aldama.