September 12, 2019
The way Purdue celebrates Constitution Day has changed in the last 15 years, but the need for doing so remains the same. The same concerns remain today as Purdue seeks an effective way to ensure that graduates have the basic civic knowledge they need to be effective citizens. Indeed, civic literacy has been a topic for discussion among the University Senate, current President Mitch Daniels, and the PU Board of Trustees.
Rewind to 2004. The United States Congress declared Sept. 17 to be Constitution Day in an effort to increase the nation’s civic literacy. To ensure its impact, Congress passed a provision requiring all schools receiving federal funds to develop educational programs for students celebrating the anniversary of the signing of the US Constitution.
In response, then President Martin Jischke invited the Ackerman Center for Democratic Citizenship to coordinate Purdue’s celebration of Constitution Day in 2005, and the Center has done so every year since.
This year’s celebration runs from 10-2 on Tuesday September 17 in PMU 118.
Among the exhibits and games this year will be a Kahoot—an online line quiz app–of the same questions used on the recent Purdue University Senate’s Civics Survey administered to incoming new students. Also, CSPAN will host an exhibit alongside Purdue Libraries Banned Books, which has been there since the beginning. Games and treats make testing your knowledge and learning more about the Constitution a fun break in the middle of the day.
One tradition which has carried through all 15 years is the Celebrity Quiz Off and once again it will be held in the Great Hall of Purdue Memorial Union at 12:30 p.m. Sheila Klinker, a participant since the first year, will be joined by the newest State Representative Chris Campbell, the Mayors of Lafayette and West Lafayette among others. The community leaders will answer some tough questions about the creation and contents of the Constitution in a light-hearted game show format hosted by Dr. Phillip VanFossen, Director of the Ackerman Center. This year for the first time, the Purdue College Democrats will face off against the Purdue College Republicans in the 11:30 a.m. Student Quiz Off.
Because all federally funded schools are asked to develop educational programs, the Ackerman Center also provides resources to K-12 schools in order to support their own Constitution Day events and will be live streaming the Quiz Offs on Facebook for local schools to watch if they are able.
Citizens should recognize the importance of knowing about the Constitution without the federal government having to mandate it, but we must begin somewhere. Setting aside this day to concentrate on the Constitution is a small, yet important, step in the right direction.
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