The U.S. Constitution may seem like a dusty, dry document with no relevance to people’s lives today. The last time you skimmed over it may have been in high school, and you may have forgotten what you studied after taking the test. Now, members of the UNC Charlotte community have a chance to regain the knowledge that was lost after that test – and to gain a better understanding of the Constitution’s impact on our lives.
On Tuesday, Sept. 17, from 11 a.m. to noon, students will gather at the Star Quad on the UNC Charlotte campus to take turns reading the 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.”
— Teaching Professor Kathleen M. Nicolaides
“Ideally, students will become aware of underlying themes in the Constitution, one of which is accountability, and that that power is not in one branch of government, but is shared among the branches,” said Nicolaides, who is director of the Legal Studies Minor and pre-law advisor. “We want people to discuss what it means that certain branches have certain powers.”
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 J. Murrey Atkins Library. If it rains, the UNC Charlotte Constitution Day event will move to After Hours, in the basement of Cone University Center. Sponsors of the event are the Legal Studies Minor, the Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology, and the Office of Academic Affairs.
Words: Kwame Davis, CLAS Communications Student Assistant