Written by: Aspasia Luster & David Kearns
Reese Library’s annual Constitution Day Celebration kicked off on Thursday, September 15th, with a screening and discussion of the movie Suffragette. The screening was held at the downtown branch of the Augusta-Richmond County Public Library and was well attended. Dr. Ruth McClelland-Nugent hosted the post-screening discussion. The League of Women Voters CSRA Chapter held a Voter Registration Drive in the library lobby and registered 11 citizens to vote.
Friday’s activities occurred on the Summerville campus in the JSAC Breezeway and the Coffee House. Students were able to participate in a photo booth with patriotic-themed props and post their thoughts on Constitution-themed questions on portable whiteboards in our Democracy Plaza. Visitors to the photo booth also had the opportunity to take home a few keepsakes of Constitution Day: bookmarks, temporary tattoos, a mini American flag, Constitutional trivia sheets, and a pocket Constitution.
A faculty-led panel on free speech issues was moderated by Dr. Craig Albert of the Political Science Department; panelists included Dr. Andrew Goss (History, Anthropology, and Philosophy), Dr. Debra van Tuyll (Communications), and Professor Robert Mullins (Social Sciences, East Georgia State College). Dr. Goss spoke on the history of the medieval university structure and how it has influenced the modern American university structure, including class and hierarchy. Even though progressive reforms have influenced American universities, the vestiges of the Master/Apprentice relationship still exist both outwardly, in the form of mortarboard and gown, and internally, in the way in which relationships are defined. Dr. Van Tuyll spoke on current free speech issues occurring on college campuses across the country (speech codes, safe spaces, etc.). She talked about the history of Augusta University’s defense of free speech in regards to controversial campus issues, plays, or art exhibits and about the lack of “green light” schools in Georgia as categorized by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE). Professor Mullins spoke on the purpose of free speech and how it can be used to further discussions on sensitive topics. Pulling examples from recent events and commentary, he illustrated how the discussion of speech is timely and important.
Our Constitution Day Celebration concluded with a second Voter Registration Drive hosted by the League of Women Voters CSRA Chapter. The drive was held in the JSAC Breezeway across from the Dining Hall. The League of Women Voters assisted 30 students in registering to vote and handed out 15-20 applications to students who were in a rush.
The 2016 Constitution Day Committee wants to thank the following individuals and organizations for their assistance with this celebration:
- David Kearns, Aspasia Luster, Caroline Akers, JannMarie Chandler (Constitution Day Committee)
- Carol-Waggoner-Angleton (Reese Library Special Collections: meeting space, thank you gifts for panelists)
- Heather Howard (Copy Services: printing of posters, bookmarks, and pocket Constitutions)
- Kristin Eberhart, Erin Prentiss (Augusta-Richmond County Public Library: meeting space for the movie screening)
- Garrett Green (The CREW: space for photo booth, photo booth set-up, Stall Wall ads)
- Dr. Ruth McClelland-Nugent (Associate Professor of History; post-screening discussion)
- League of Women Voters CSRA Chapter (voter registration drives at movie screening & at Reese Library)
- Dr. Craig Albert (Assistant Professor, Political Science; panel moderator)
- Dr. Andrew Goss (Chair, History, Anthropology, and Philosophy; panelist)
- Dr. Debra van Tuyll (Professor, Communications; panelist)
- Professor Robert Mullins (Assistant Professor, Social Sciences, East Georgia State College; panelist)
- Karin Sisk, Betty Reece (League of Women Voters CSRA Chapter)