Indiana State University Newsroom

Campus marks seventh annual observance of Constitution Day

September 17, 2009

Indiana State students and faculty clustered around as three ISU theater majors dressed in colonial costumes and ringing bells recited the Preamble to the U.S. Constitution.

The event in front of the university's Cunningham Memorial Library was part of Indiana State's celebration of Constitution Day.

Students, faculty and others followed theater majors Amanda Allen, Paige Biggs and Jordan Carpenter into the library to sign copies of the Constitution.

"It was cool to see it and actually get to sign it, even though it's obviously not real," said Aerial Kirchoff, a freshman pre-med major from Vincennes.

The recitation of the Preamble and the signing of the document began the celebration of the seventh Constitution Day at Indiana State and the 222nd anniversary of the Constitution.

"This day is not only to celebrate the Constitution, but also to celebrate the act of citizenship," said Linda Maule, associate professor of political science and women's studies.

The day featured four seminars, including an afternoon session led by Maule and Darlene Hantzis, professor of communication and women's studies and campus coordinator of the American Democracy Project.

The goal of their session was to use a public deliberative dialogue to discuss difficult issues in politics while remaining civil with each other.

"Listening is more important than talking, but talking is essential," Hantzis said. "In our classes we want to teach skills that are essential to a democracy. There is no democracy if there is no difference. We make community. It doesn't exist if we don't create it."

Robert Van Sickel, associate professor of political science and director of legal studies, led a discussion about mass media and the Supreme Court in the 21st century. He urged students to consider the impact of new technology on the way the Supreme Court is covered. They talked about Twitter, Facebook and other social networking sites.

"I want them to use these devices to acquire information about the Constitution and the Supreme Court in addition to social networking," Van Sickel said. "The premise is that America knows less about the Supreme Court than they do about government. The Supreme Court is very secretive-on purpose-compared to Congress or the president. How is technology changing that?"

Constitution Day was part of a longer series of events hosted by the American Democracy Project, the library, and the university's Center for Public Service and Community Engagement.

On Tuesday, Indiana Chief Justice Randy Shepard spoke to the campus community about the Constitution as a great American export.

"It was a privilege to have [him] come and address the campus," Maule said.

While Shepard was on campus, President Daniel J. Bradley awarded him with the President's Award for his efforts to make sure the public has access to and information about the Indiana judiciary and its functions.

On Wednesday, the library showed the film "Patsy Mink: Ahead of the Majority," which depicts Mink, the first woman of color to serve in Congress.

"She played a significant role in passing Title IX of the Education Act of 1972," Maule said. "She affected pretty significant change in the political system at a time when women and minorities did not have a lot of influence."

The American Democracy Project also hosts Pizza and Politics at various times throughout the semester. The public deliberative dialogue will be used at those, too.

Anyone interested in being involved with the American Democracy Project should contact Hantzis at

Photos: -Indiana State University students sign copies of the U.S. Constitution as theater major Jordan Carpenter, dressed in period clothes, watches. (ISU/Tony Campbell) - Dressed in 18th century clothes, theater majors Paige Biggs (left), Amanda Allen and Jordan Carpenter helped set the scene for a Constitution signing ceremony to mark Indiana State University's observance of Constitution Day. (ISU/Tony Campbell)

Contact: Darlene Hantzis, professor of communication and women's studies and campus coordinator, American Democracy Project, 812-237-3658 or

Writer: Lana Schrock, media relations assistant, Indiana State University, 812-237-3773 or