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SFSU commemorates U.S. Constitution signing

September 15, 2005

Photo of the original copy of the U.S. ConstitutionOn Monday, Sept. 19, SFSU faculty will devote a day to the U.S. Constitution, commemorating the anniversary of this document's signing on Sept. 17, 1787. Lectures and discussions will be led by senior faculty from several colleges and disciplines ranging from political science to math. Open to anyone on campus, all the programs will take place in the Humanities building.

A new federal law requires colleges to present programs about the U.S. Constitution each year. The requirement was inserted into a fall 2004 spending bill by Sen. Robert C. Byrd, D-West Virginia, and is administered by the U.S. Department of Education. This is the first year that "Constitution Day" will be observed at campuses nationwide.

The day kicks off at 10:10 a.m. in the Humanities auditorium, room 133, with a current events perspective offered by Michael Graham, professor of political science, on the politics involved in the appointment of John Roberts to the Supreme Court.

Christopher Waldrep, Pasker Chair of American History, will addresses the idea of principled governance in "The Constitution, the Supreme Court and the People" at 12:10 p.m. in the Humanities auditorium.

Lectures and discussions throughout the day are as follows:

  • The Constitution, the Supreme Court, Civil Rights and Affirmative Action: Robert Smith, professor of political science, will speak about the 14th Amendment vs. the commerce clause and Amy Smith, professor of psychology, will give a perspective on social psychology and affirmative action. The lecture and discussion begins at 11:10 and will be moderated by Kenneth Monteiro, dean of ethnic studies, in the Humanities auditorium.
  • The Constitution, the Supreme Court, and Disability Rights: A Perspective on the History of Disability Rights, will be presented by Paul Longmore, professor of history, and guest speaker Mazen Basrawi, an attorney from Disability Rights Advocates. Jules Tygiel, professor of history, will moderate this lecture at 11:10 in Humanities room 386.
  • Race, the Constitution, and Social Justice: Joanne Barker, assistant professor of American Indian studies; Robert Fung, lecturer in Asian American studies; Brigitte Davila, lecturer in Raza studies; and Donna Hubbard, lecturer in Africana studies, will focus on the constitutional implications of the recent U.S. District Court decision regarding the Kamehameha Schools in Hawai'i. James Okutsu, associate dean of ethnic studies, will moderate this event in the Humanities Auditorium beginning at 1:10 p.m.
  • Tensions and Meanings of the Constitution: James Martel, assistant professor of political science. and Jonathan Middlebrook, professor of English, will present their perspectives on the rhetoric of the Constitution and the notion of self-reliance as expressed by Ralph Waldo Emerson. This session, moderated by Robert Cherny, acting dean of undergraduate studies, will begin at 1:10 in Humanities room 277.
  • The Constitution in Time of War: Corey Cook, assistant professor of political science, will speak on the War Powers Act and Congress's constitutional responsibility. William Issel, professor of history, will share his recent research on war, civil liberties and the separation of church and state as it applied to a San Francisco Italian American during WWII. This program is in Humanities auditorium at 2:10 p.m.
  • The Constitution and Voting: Frank Sheehan, emeritus professor of mathematics, will speak about the mathematics of apportionment and Francis Neely, assistant professor of political science, will present ton constitutional constraints on electoral reform in Humanities room 277 at 2:10 p.m.

This first annual Constitution Day at SFSU was organized by a committee consisting of Cherny; Monteiro; Longmore; Graham; Waldrep; Joel Kassiola, dean of the behavioral and social sciences; Amita Shastri, chair of political science, and Richard Hoffman, chair of history.

"Although we did not originate the idea for Constitution Day, we enthusiastically embraced it," Kassiola said. "We felt the obligation to offer our students an opportunity to think critically and incisively about our public policy, how it was formed and how it functions today."

For more information on the sessions see the Undergraduate Studies Web site. A scan of the U.S. Constitution is available on the National Archives Web site.

-- Denize Springer


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Last modified September 15, 2005 by University Communications