Constitution Day: Don’t Revere It, Read It—In Public

Posted on 9/15/2016 11:26:25 AM

Public reading of the U.S. Constitution at IUP.

IUP will kick off its annual observance of Constitution Day with a public reading of the complete text of the United States Constitution—from the preamble to the 27th Amendment—on Wednesday, September 21, 2016, from noon to 1:00 p.m. in front of the Stapleton Library, facing the Oak Grove.

“I don’t want people to revere the Constitution as a sacred document,” said Gwen Torges, a political science faculty member who teaches constitutional law and organized IUP’s Constitution Day activities. “I want to see people reading it, critically analyzing it, and engaging in thoughtful discussion about it.”  She added, “It’s perfectly fine with me if, after thinking about it, they disagree with something in the Constitution or would like to see it updated.”

Anyone interested in reading a portion of the Constitution is invited to participate. The Constitution will be divided into 100 parts. IUP President Michael Driscoll will begin the event by reading the preamble, followed by any student, faculty, staff or member of the community who would like to read a portion of the Constitution. The first 100 participants will receive a pocket-sized U.S. Constitution, a “We the People at IUP” t-shirt, and a star-shaped cookie.

Adding to the excitement, four of the document’s authors will drop by to observe the event and to chat with students. All are invited to mingle with Founders Ben Franklin, Alexander Hamilton, Charles Pinckney, and James Madison, portrayed, respectively, by political science faculty members David Chambers, Steve Jackson, and Mac Fiddner and history faculty member Joe Mannard.

Sponsored by the College of Humanities and Social Sciences and the Department of Political Science, this will be the 10th annual public reading of the Constitution at IUP. Constitution Day commemorates the September 17, 1787, signing of the U.S. Constitution, which is 229 years old this year.

“Watching students and staff line up, all with the Constitution in hand, and then listening to them read a part of Constitution is quite moving,” said Torges. “To commemorate the triumph of the rule of law in this way makes you feel like a part of something larger than oneself.”

“Every year, people that have participated in the past ask me if we’re going to do it again,” said Torges. “The event has become something of an institution here at IUP.”