Constitution Day: A day for American reflection

Greg Pitts, director of the School of Journalism and Strategic Media, kicked off Constitution Day on the Bragg steps with a reading of the Preamble.
 

Signed over 200 years ago, the U.S. Constitution was the focal point for Middle Tennessee State University students and faculty on Constitution Day on Sept. 17. The event was a campuswide read aloud of the Constitution in multiple locations on campus. 

The John Bragg Building, which houses the College of Media and Entertainment, holds great significance regarding the Constitution, specifically the First Amendment, as every major housed in Bragg relies heavily on the guaranteed rights and freedoms of the First Amendment. 

The reading held in in front of Bragg attracted over 100 students and a little over a dozen faculty led by the director of the School of Journalism and Strategic Media, Greg Pitts, Ph.D. 

“For me the event is important as it teaches students why it’s important to be knowledgeable about the Constitution,” said Maleea Webb, a journalism student

After months of deliberating and lobbying on Sept. 17, 1787, the U.S. Constitution was signed by nearly 70% of the delegates attending the Constitutional Convention. The exhilarating document promises freedoms, rights and independence to the citizens of this country. 

Deborah Fisher, director of the Seigenthaler Chair of Excellence in First Amendment Studies, set up a voter registration booth for students during the college’s Constitution reading.

Though the document holds much importance politically, legally and sentimentally, many Americans have very little knowledge about the document’s content. In a survey conducted by the Annenberg Public Policy Center, nearly 37% of the surveyed adults could not list a single right guaranteed in the First Amendment. Additionally, it was found that 33% could not identify a single branch of government. 

With troubling statistics like these, MTSU is trying to educate students about the Constitution and the rights they hold. 

“A lot of people are unaware of what the Constitution contains, so this event gives students (further) knowledge of it,” said Terrica Black, a multimedia journalism student.

This year’s event took on the centralized topic of the 19th Amendment, which guarantees women’s right to vote. A panel of two influential women (Marjorie Spruill, Ph.D. and State Rep. London Lamar) spoke of the struggles to women’s suffrage and its importance as they reflected on the 100th anniversary of its ratification. The panel was moderated by Margaret Renkl, a Nashville resident who is an opinion writer for The New York Times.  

Frank Baird, associate professor in the Department of Recording Industry, led three students who handled sound for the event. They were (pictured left to right) senior Frankie Bates, MFA student Kyle Hughes and junior Jheanson Nieves.

In addition to the event providing knowledge about the Constitution, it also served as a learning experience for students. The sound for the event was provided by student producers: Kyle Hughes, Jheanson Nieves and Frankie Bates (along with Associate Professor Frank Baird). 

Moreover, the event was a place for students to register to vote. A voter registration tent near Bragg attracted 25+ students. 

Story by Sabrina Washington, a senior in the School of Journalism and Strategic Media.

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