We can trace the origins of our current national observance of Constitution Day to
West Virginia Senator Robert Byrd’s amendment to the 2004 Omnibus spending bill. However,
recognition of September 17th, 1787—the day delegates to the Constitutional Convention
in Philadelphia signed the document before sending it to the states for ratification—has
a long history. In 1911, schools in Iowa were the first to recognize the day in an
educational setting. It moved to the national stage in 1917 and by 1949 governors
of every state had issued proclamations commemorating Constitution Day. In 1957, President
Eisenhower signed into law an act declaring September 17-23 as Constitution Week.
Byrd’s 2004 amendment carried with it the obligation (confirmed in a 2005 direction
from the Department of Education) that any institution receiving federal funding observe
Constitution Day. The faculty and leadership of Mott Community College have embraced
this obligation. In keeping with the college’s educational mission, the College annually
presents a broad array of programming that not only commemorates the Constitution
itself but also the wider responsibilities and implications of citizenship in a free
society and, as such, the college has always welcomed members of the public to Constitution
Lecture and discussion on the legal sources and limits of presidential power.
Screening and discussion of the documentary film 13th.
The college hosted a debate involving more than half a dozen third-party and independent
Political Science and History faculty coordinated a participatory event in which
students collaborated on and shared the results of a speculative brainstorming session
on ways to potentially modernize elements of the Bill of Rights and the perils of
tying fundamental law to a particular historical/political context.
Political Science faculty led a presentation on “The Good Citizen: How our conceptions
of citizenship shape political participation” in conjunction with the Center for Teaching
Maggie McGuire of ACLU of Michigan delivered a presentation on "The Founding Fathers
& Facebook: A Discussion about the Fourth Amendment & Social Media.” This was followed
by a panel discussion of these issues with students and the public coordinated by
Political Science faculty.
History faculty presentation and group discussion: "The Global War on Terror: What
are the Constitutional implications for a continual state of war?"
Commemoration of both the 10th anniversary of 9/11/2001 and the 224th anniversary
of the signing of the United States Constitution (9/17/1787). Discussion panel focused
on the following questions: how do war and national emergencies affect our Constitutional
rights and civil liberties? How has the federal government limited freedoms in the
past, and what are the present-day implications for us as citizens? How has the relationship
between national security and individual rights and liberties developed over time?
Faculty/Student discussion panels on current events and their relation to the 1st
and 14th Amendments.
Ceremony and reading of the Constitution followed by faculty/student panel discussion
on Constitutional law and the question of same-sex marriage.
An event in the Student Life area included Constitution-knowledge based games and
activities, a panel discussion with History, Political Science, and English faculty,
and a Q&A session on civil liberties issues with students.
The Social Sciences division hosted a reading of the Bill of Rights, along with comments
by history and political science faculty as well as college leadership. Additionally,
mass email to entire college community with some history and facts about the constitution.