By Johnny Jackson
Glowing accounts of Clayton State University's Constitution Day celebrations are enough to build on next year for the annual observance, according to Gene Hatfield, chair of Constitution Day activities at Clayton. The university even went a step farther, asking students to enhance their civic involvement.
On Wednesday, Adam Tate spoke to a standing crowd, Hatfield said. Tate, an assistant history professor at Clayton, orated on "Union and Liberty: The Politics of the 1780s and the Constitutional Movement."
He asked, "What is "Constitutionalism?" and "Why a more perfect Union?" He also covered "The First American Constitutions, Poles of Opinion in the 1780s, and The Philadelphia Convention."
Throughout the day Thursday, some students busily concerned themselves with civic opportunities abounding in the University Center.
In the bustle, the university announced its partnership with Hands On Atlanta, a non-profit organization that helps groups and individuals find flexible volunteer opportunities with area service organizations and schools. At midday, some students and faculty attended Hands On Atlanta orientation sessions and workshops.
Across from students Sean Walker and Joseph Echols balanced a panel display of 19 exhibit copies of historic documents among them were the United States Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights and the Articles of Confederation. The National Archives and Records Administration's (NARA) Southeastern Regional Archives presented the exhibit.
Walker and Echols sat behind a voter registration table on an enclosed cobblestone concourse in the University Center known as Main Street. They volunteered in the university's American Democracy Project Voter Registration Drive, which was created in conjunction with Constitution Day celebrations. It compliments the national project and celebrations.
Walker is a sophomore majoring in political science. He volunteered for the registration drive as president of the university's College Democrats.
"I'm excited about today," he said. "It's a way the school is actually reaching out and taking part in the process. It gives us a chance to work together instead of individual student organizations working separately doing our own things."
Walker said he changed his major from history when he became more involved with the political process during the last general election in which he also voted.
"I started out as a volunteer and became a student coordinator in Georgia," he said. He hopes to become a campaign manager one day.
Echols believed the Drive is a part of civic duty in a sense. He volunteered with members of his Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity. He is the fraternity's vice president, a senior majoring in business management.
The History Society, the Honors Student Association, the Sigma Pi Fraternity, the American Humanics, the Young Republicans, the Student Government Association, and the Society for the Advancement of Management were also involved in some way with the American Democracy Project and the Constitution Day Observance.
There was another Constitution display in the Clayton State Bookstore on the University Center's first floor, around the corner from the commons area where Dolores Cox, Clayton State communications coordinator, and a few dozen others stood to read exerts of the Constitution aloud to students eating their lunches in the cafeteria area.
"I think the most important thing about the Constitution is to remember its purpose and intent," Cox said. "I think we have to keep the spirit alive. (Though) there should be more women's rights and more protections for women in all aspects of their lives."
Hatfield also read a piece of the living document.
"I think it's been a wonderful success," he said about the university's observance. "It is important to remind ourselves about the value of the Constitution."