Marywood to host National Constitution Day event

Constitution Day is observed September 17th.

Constitution Day is observed September 17th.

September 17 is National Constitution Day, a day across America where people’s rights as citizens of this country are highlighted and celebrated; many colleges and universities try to do something during this day, particularly to encourage people to vote or educate people on a little-known issue, and Marywood is no exception. Dr. Adam Shprintzen, Ph.D., associate professor of social science, organized the event, which is being held on September 15.

“There’s a federal law that essentially says if you receive backing from the federal government, you have to run some sort of programming for National Constitution Day. So we use that opportunity as a department to think about the idea of rights and changing the definition of rights,” said Shprintzen.

According to, Constitution Day events became required after Congress passed a law in 2004. The law states, “Each educational institution that receives Federal funds for a fiscal year shall hold an educational program on the United States Constitution on September 17 of such year for the students served by the educational institution.”

He emphasized the importance of the timing, with this year being an election year.

“We have a very important election coming up, not just in Pennsylvania but across the nation, and certain questions about rights and certain questions about voting rights are at play…Rights aren’t something that’s fixed, they’re things people fight for,” said Shprintzen.

A major topic of the event will be what is known as felon disenfranchisement. This is when someone who has been convicted of a felony loses their right to vote.

According to Shprintzen, this effectively strips away one’s citizenship, as voting is important and a constitution-given right. However, not many people are aware that this is a concept that exists-something that he hopes this event might change.

“That’s pretty amazing to think about: about 5 million American citizens, who are in every way qualified to vote, have this right denied based on being in prison,” said Shprintzen . “It ties into the criminal justice system [and] the Reconstruction period in America, where all these bigoted and racist laws were put into effect.”

This event will feature a guest speaker, Dr. Pippa Holloway from the University of Richmond in Virginia.

“She’s broadly focused on the history of rights and voting rights,” said Shprintzen. “She’s a really well-known historian; she’s looking forward to seeing the campus and getting to interact with students.”

The event will be held from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday night in the Upper Main Dining Room at Nazareth Student Center, adjacent to the Fireplace Lounge. It is completely free and open to the public, and there will be voter registration opportunities at the event. Shprintzen says he hopes this event encourages people who are on the fence about voting to do so and raise awareness of important voting issues.

“It’s very easy to get cynical about the political process when so much is happening that feels unjust,” Shprintzen said. “But what I like to remind students is that if voting wasn’t so powerful, there wouldn’t constantly be forces trying to deny us the right to vote.”

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