Constitution Day, Sept. 17, commemorates the date in 1787 when 55 of the nation's founders signed the document that is the heart of the great American experiment in democracy.
The Constitution and all it means to the United States will be celebrated at Fort Hays State University through the week of Sept. 18-22 with a variety of events and activities coordinated through the university's American Democracy Project.
The public forum was set for a Monday because it is the first day of classes following the official Constitution Day, which falls on a Sunday. The free public forum, from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Monday, Sept. 18, in the Beach/Schmidt Performing Arts Center on the FHSU campus, will put the Constitution in sharp focus through the lens of the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center. "Constitutional Issues in a Post-9-11 America," co-sponsored by The Hays Daily News, will explore the impact of 9-11 on our civil rights and liberties. Free, pocket-sized copies of the U.S. Constitution will be distributed to everyone attending.
The forum builds on a series begun at FHSU in 2005, in which a panel of experts briefly explains the issues involved in the topic under discussion before the floor is turned over for questions and comments from the audience.
The three panelists for "Constitutional Issues" are Bob Hooper, Bogue, a 1963 FHSU liberal arts graduate and a grassroots activist who writes a regular, frequently political column for The Hays Daily News; Dr. Andria Cooper, an assistant professor of justice studies at FHSU; and Dr. Jerry Brown, from the Department of Military History at the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth.
Cooper will speak on her area of expertise, which is civil liberties pertaining to search and seizure. The thesis of Hooper's remarks will be "that our historic balance of power is endangered and the primary result is a runaway executive branch."
Todd Powell, general counsel and executive assistant to the president at FHSU, will serve as moderator for the forum.
In the previous forums, hundreds of people from Hays and the surrounding communities have attended and many of them have expressed their views on the topics "What's the Matter With Kansas;” "(Dis)Honoring Native Americans: Heritage or Heresy;" "Evolution and Intelligent Design: Schools, Politics and Participation;" and at the Sister Cities summit "Opening Doors While Securing Borders: Important Issues in a Democracy."
While the forum launches Constitution Week, many other events and activities in conjunction with Constitution Day are scheduled.
Sunday, Sept. 10 -- Hays Freedom Walk, 3:30 p.m., from the National Guard Armory, 200 Main, to the Ellis County Courthouse, 1204 Fort. FHSU's Tigers in Service organized this walk for the eve of the fifth anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, attack against the United States. The walk pays tribute to the victims of the attack. Walk participants will include U.S. Rep. Jerry Moran, Hays, state Rep. Eber Phelps, Hays, and state Sen. Janis Lee, Kensington.
Wednesday, Sept. 13 -- Times Talk, sponsored by The New York Times and FHSU's American Democracy Project, will feature "Jihad vs. McWorld: The Implications of Fundamentalism and Globalism for Constitutional Democracy," from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. in the Pioneer Room of Memorial Union. The presenter is Dr. Larry Gould, FHSU provost. The first 25 attendees will receive a free lunch of sandwiches, chips and drinks. The public is welcome.
Monday, Sept. 18 -- "Be Heard! Voter Registration and Education Drive" aimed at getting FHSU students involved in the electoral process, will take place in front of Rarick Hall from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and again during the forum, from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. at Beach/Schmidt. Information on voter registration will be available and, while supplies last, free T-shirts will be distributed.
Free, pocket-sized copies of the U.S. Constitution will be distributed on the FHSU Quad from 9 to 11 a.m.
A Democracy Commons will be established throughout the day outside of Rarick Hall and will run each day of the week. Two large blackboards will be available for people to post their thoughts on issues. During this and succeeding Democracy Commons days, the Student Government Association will take photos to use in a blog and online scrapbook. The public is welcome to participate.
Tuesday, Sept. 19 -- A video will be shown of former Secretary of State Colin Powell reciting the preamble to the Constitution before the Tiger volleyball game at 7 p.m. against the Pittsburg State University Gorillas in Gross Memorial Coliseum.
Democracy Commons will again be available all day outside Rarick Hall. The public is welcome to participate.
Wednesday, Sept. 20 -- A Times Talk presentation will cover "The Founders on Freedom: The U.S. Constitution and the Men Who Made It" at 12:30 p.m. by Dr. Todd Leahy, chair of the Department of History, in Memorial Union's Black and Gold Room. The public is welcome.
Democracy Commons will be available all day outside of Rarick Hall. The public is welcome to participate.
Thursday, Sept. 21, and Friday, Sept. 22 -- Democracy Commons will be available all day outside of Rarick Hall. The public is welcome to participate.
Thursday, Sept. 28 -- The Ben Franklin Papers, an event for area fifth- and eighth-graders at Gross Memorial Coliseum, features two letters in Ben Franklin's handwriting and original copies of two issues of his Pennsylvania Gazette. Fifth-graders from Hays, Ellis and Victoria will attend from 9 to 11 a.m. and eighth-graders will attend from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m.