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UI, Iowa City celebrate Constitution Week

BY BRENT GRIFFITHS | SEPTEMBER 17, 2012 6:30 AM

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Exactly 225 years ago today, 55 men wrote a document on parchment to address the failures in their government. That very same document can now be flipped through on an iPad, summarized into 140 characters on Twitter, or shoved into a pocket squeezed between keys and a cell phone.

The U.S. Constitution may have been signed in Philadelphia, and currently housed in Washington, D.C., but its impact is constantly felt and debated, especially in an election year such as this one.

Separate from the election and the partisan fervor, the Iowa City and University of Iowa community will mark the anniversary with the yearly tradition of administering free pocket Constitutions, which will be available at the T-Spoons, Capanna, and Java House, as well as the UI Main Library today through Friday as part of Constitution Week.

“It’s great to have the opportunity for people to see some of our rights defined, and that they need to be protected,” said Jammie Goedken, the owner of T-Spoons. “You hear about it in government class or in school, but for someone who is removed from that environment, it’s nice to have a refresher.”

Coffee drinkers at T-Spoons will also be able to add a patriotic flavor to their brew with the yearly addition of the Constitutional Latte, made of: white chocolate, raspberry, and blueberries, during the weeklong anniversary. Other events include a reading by ROTC students in the IMU.

Additionally, the Iowa City City Council will pass a proclamation during Tuesday’s meeting.

“All of our laws are based on the [Constitution], and people should try to attend the events,” said City Councilor Connie Champion. “It’s really important to see it work in the general public favor, especially with important Supreme Court decisions, and I believe it’s a very valuable and well-thought-out tool.”

UI professors and students alike weighed in on the relevance of the document in 2012.

UI political-science Associate Professor Tim Hagle said the Constitution reminds Americans of their unalienable rights.

“I don’t think politicians understand what the Constitution is …” he said. “The government is here to serve us, not vice versa.”

UI senior Chris Piplani said the observance is important especially with the upcoming election in November.

“[The Constitution] is especially important during an election year, when it will be under a microscope,” he said. “The Tea Party [members] like to say they follow it, but in my opinion, they don’t.”

“It’s great that people in this country have a right to say something that not everyone will agree with,” UI senior Jay Bell said. “I don’t personally agree with the Westboro Baptist Church protesting soldiers’ funerals, but I believe they have a right to say it.”

Today, its meaning may concern videos on Youtube, spark debate on 24-hour news channels, or be referenced with hashtags or Facebook statuses, but one fact remains: Even in the age of technology the power of a document written so long ago is still felt.

“It isn’t as much an emphasis in celebrating the Constitution, but it’s for those who didn’t take a course in it or understand that’s it supposed to be the foundation of government, not something everyone pays lip service to,” Hagle said.


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