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Bowdoin celebrates 232nd anniversary of the Constitution’s signing

September 20, 2019

Caroline Flaharty
read me Pocket Constitutions are available for students to pick up from Hawthorne-Longfellow Library.

The Bowdoin College Library and Department of Government and Legal Studies teamed up this month to celebrate the 232nd anniversary of the signing of the United States Constitution. A series of events around campus will mark the day and focus on the nation’s founding document.

The programming is centered on Constitution and Citizenship Day, which is observed every September 17, the date the Constitution was signed in 1787. According to the Library of Congress, the holiday commemorates America’s founding document and “recognize[s] all who, by coming of age or by naturalization, have become citizens.”

The librarians at Hawthorne-Longfellow (H-L) Library set up an interactive display in the entrance for the month of September to solicit students’ responses to a series of questions about the Constitution and its amendments. Pocket Constitutions are also available for students to pick up.

On September 27, the Department of Government and Legal Studies will host a faculty panel entitled “Does the Constitution Need Fixing?” to discuss the history of constitutional amendments and the possibility of future additions.

This is the second year that the library and government department have teamed up for Constitution-themed programming. Last year, the library’s display prompted students to consider what the Constitution meant to them, and the panel featured professors responding to students’ queries about the meaning and interpretation of the document today.

The programming in H-L is meant to engage library-goers by providing them with an opportunity to think about something they otherwise might not encounter in their daily lives, explained Barabara Levergood, the library’s data services librarian.

“It’s a way of getting students to think about what may be lacking in the Constitution,” Levergood explained. “Is the Constitution perfect? Even when it was written it wasn’t perfect, because right off the bat we have the Bill of Rights.”

Andrew Rudalevige, chair of the government department  and Thomas Brackett Reed professor of government, will speak on the panel.

“Certainly the framers of the Constitution didn’t think they had struck off a perfect document. They expected there to be change and debate or deliberation over time,” said Rudalevige. “It [is] also a good chance to reflect on whether we think that the current U.S. government, at all levels, is doing the job that we would like [it] to do. And if it’s not, then we as citizens do have the chance to change that process by voting for one thing, which many, many students do not do.”

Aside from pocket Constitutions, both Rudalevige and Levergood want students to take one thing away from the programming:

“I would like all [students] to vote,” Rudalevige said.

Levergood concurred: “Go register to vote,” she said.

The “Does the Constitution Need Fixing?” panel will be held on Friday, September 27 from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. in the Shannon Room in Hubbard Hall.


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