Students, faculty and staff at Columbia College Chicago celebrated their 3rd annual Constitution Day throughout the downtown South Loop Tuesday, Sept. 17.
Students were educated on the practicalities of voting, given the chance to register to vote and given pocket versions of the Constitution, in the college’s buildings at 623 S. Wabash Ave., and 624 S. Michigan Ave.
All schools receiving federal funding are required to hold an educational program pertaining to the United States Constitution on Sept. 17 of every year, according to a May 24, 2005 Federal Register mandate.
Marketing Coordinator for Columbia’s library Cole Robertson was one of the library’s staff in charge, and felt the event went “okay.”
“We talked to approximately 120 people,” said Robertson. “We didn’t get that many registrations though, we got around 16 total.”
He believed the shortage of registrations was because students either registered already or were not yet eligible to vote.
Still, Robertson said he believed it was still possible for some to register.
If a person is underage, they can register if they will be 18-years-old by election day.
[pullquote]“What I would love to see, is it become a broader campus-wide, or even bigger effort that becomes a broader tradition,” he said. “I want people on Constitution Day to sign up to vote. And if that could become a sort of consistent thing in a lot of different venues and places, I would be really pleased.”[/pullquote]New to the city? You must have had residency in Chicago for at least 30 days, which could just be the 30 days before the election.
The main focus of Constitution Day at Columbia, was to educate those on the voting process, but there are other events planned to further the learning process.
According to Robertson, Librarian Maryam Fakouri has spearheaded a later installment of Constitution Day with a screening of the film “Gideon’s Army” and a panel discussion directly following the movie on Oct. 24.
Robertson was very passionate about these two events, and explained how the library got involved.
“Librarians are really interested in freedom of information, freedom of expression – they are one of the last stalwarts of freedom of communication,” he said. “So it just made sense for the library to have a part in putting on Constitution Day.”
He said he feels that some of the general public could be more informed about the Constitution itself.
Robertson said he believes the mass communication media we are inundated with everyday, is as much a blessing, as it is a curse.
“People just get crazy on the comment threads,” he said. “They don’t understand the meaning of that [Freedom of Speech]. The first amendment does guarantee people freedom of government repression of speech, but it’s not proof against criticism.”
Still he does believe that people are mostly well-versed, they just misconceive their fundamental rights as citizens.
As the program increases its legacy on campus, Robertson said he has high hopes.
“What I would love to see, is it become a broader campus-wide, or even bigger effort that becomes a broader tradition,” he said. “I want people on Constitution Day to sign up to vote. And if that could become a sort of consistent thing in a lot of different venues and places, I would be really pleased.”