Last week, UH Hilo celebrated 2022 Constitution Day during a week-long series of events recognizing the formation and signing of the U.S. Constitution on September 17, 1787.
By Susan Enright.
Last week, the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo celebrated 2022 Constitution Day during a week-long series of events recognizing the formation and signing of the U.S. Constitution on September 17, 1787. The events were organized by the UH Hilo Department of Political Science in collaboration with the Department of Sociology, the Mookini Library, the Office of International Student Services, and the Certificate in Pre-Law program.
UH Hilo sociology professor Lindy Hern gave an in-person presentation on Sept. 16 about the importance of civic engagement to the sustaining of democracy. Other contributing professors and organizers of the week-long events were political science professors Sarah Marusek and Su-Mi Lee.
“Constitution Day is not only a day to commemorate the birth of the U.S. Constitution but also to appreciate other institutions that maintain the rule of law in the country,” says Lee.
“The democratic institutions make sure everybody in the country is accountable to the same laws while civic organizations check on the government to ensure it does its job fairly, effectively, and efficiently,” Lee explains. “Having the Constitution is not enough, nor is having democratic institutions. We all have to be vigilant about our surroundings and developments around the country and world to keep our democratic system and Constitution safe and intact.”
She adds, “Constitution Day is a day we can remind ourselves of the importance of civic engagement in addition to democracy and the Constitution.”
Events also included a week-long exhibition at Mookini Library with a display of the materials arranged by librarian Amy Saxton on the U.S. Constitution, democracy, and civic engagement.
County of Hawai‘i officials, including Tim Hansen, an executive assistant to Mayor Mitch Roth and UH Hilo political science lecturer, hosted a group of students at their Hilo offices on Sept. 14, to share information about its history and initiatives. On Facebook, the students note, “Mayor Roth came out to greet us!”
At an evening event on Sept. 15, a Zoom presentation was given by Judge Simeon Acoba on “The Interaction of Two Constitutions,” where students learned more about the recent Dobbs v. Jackson decision of the U.S. supreme court and its interrelationship with the state constitution, including that of Hawai‘i. International students shared their thoughts about their home countries’ constitutions. UH Hilo Chancellor Bonnie Irwin attended the event and shared on Twitter, “Privileged this evening to attend a Constitution Day event @UHHilo. A presentation by Regent Emeritus Acoba on the interplay between federal and state constitutions followed by intl student presentations about constitutions and government in their countries.”
Privileged this evening to attend a Constitution Day event @UHHilo . A presentation by Regent Emeritus Acoba on the interplay between federal and state constitutions followed by intl student presentations about constitutions and government in their countries. #ConstitutionDay
— bonnieirwin (@bonnieirwin) September 16, 2022
On campus at events held Sept. 15 and 16 at the Campus Center Plaza, students could register to vote and take quizzes to test their knowledge of the U.S. Constitution and the Founding Fathers.
Students also were encouraged, through an online portal, to share their thoughts about the meaning of democracy, aspects of the U.S. Constitution that are most meaningful to them, and why civic engagement is important to sustain democracy. Student Lindsay Emerson won an award for her contribution.
At the plaza events, students could also learn about local civic organizations and sponsors of week-long Constitution Day celebration such as Zonta International, Rotary International, the League of Women Voters, the Hawai‘i County Bar Association, the Returned Peace Corps Alumni, and Exchange Clubs. A representative from the American Association of University Women also attended.
By Susan Enright, a public information specialist for the Office of the Chancellor and editor of UH Hilo Stories.