By Christopher Gillett
Youngstown State University celebrated Constitution Day by holding an event in the Rossi Room at Kilcawley center Friday, Sept. 16. A presentation on universities and the First Amendment occurred along with games and voter registration.
The federal holiday recognizes the signing of the Constitution by the framers Sept. 17, 1787. The national celebration of the holiday began in 2005. One of the most celebrated and contested parts of the constitution is the First Amendment, which guarantees the separation of church and state, freedom of speech, press, assembly, religion and petition.
Amy Crawford, chair of the department of communications, lectured on the First Amendment, free speech and its application at public universities to educate and encourage dialogue among attendees.
“Students have a constitutional right to free speech. Youngstown State University is committed to giving students broad latitude to speak, write, listen, challenge, learn, and discuss,” Crawford said.
Crawford began her lecture on the creation of the First Amendment. She focused on James Madison, the fourth president and a Founding Father. She explained the marketplace of ideas, where views are open and accessible to the public, which is how free speech operates in the United States and Ohio.
The event had a trivia game, where attendees could spin a wheel and answer constitution trivia for the opportunity to win prizes themed off the constitution and American history.
YSU’s chapter of the conservative political organization, Turning Point United States of America, held a table to register voters.
Austin Browne, a junior engineering major, is the president of YSU’s chapter of TPUSA. He explained what motivated him to table for the organization.
“That’s one of the major things we do as a group. We give out literature and things like that, set around America and freedom and stuff like that, and we register people to vote at all of our tables. [We] figured this would be a good place to come and do it,” Browne said.
Many YSU students attended the event. Elsa Khan, senior biology major, explained why she attended.
“I came because it’s really important to learn about free speech, especially in a time where saying your ideas more and more might be criticized a lot. I think it’s really important for me to understand how to be respectful and also be a good listener,” Khan said.
Jordan Pintar, a sophomore political science and philosophy major and a student government representative gave her thoughts on the importance of the day’s celebrations
“I’m interested in anything that has to do with our constitutional rights, [and] anything like free speech, but also being a representative of student government I wanted to learn more about the university policies and how it’s affecting our students here so that I could better represent them.” Pintar said.
If students are interested in learning more about YSU’s policy on free speech they can go to the student affairs website.