by Tiffany Martinez
Faculty and students gathered at the CETES Conference Center on Monday, Sept. 15, to observe Constitution Day on campus.
The annual event featured a panel of three speakers: Rick Tepker, Ph.D., Ass. Dean of the University
of Oklahoma Law School; Peter Gade, Ph.D., of the Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Oklahoma; and Christopher Keller, Ph.D., of the Department of Communication at Cameron University.
Constitution Day pamphlets and small booklets, which contained the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution, were placed on the chairs in the conference center for audience members to keep. Students jotted notes as the speakers each took their turn on the podium sharing studies, facts, findings and opinions.
Approximately 50 people attended the two-hour event. Those that participated left with more than an education on the United States Constitution and rights of the First Amendment, however. Different perspectives and recurring themes in social and mass communication also merged into the event. The speakers discussed just how vital laws have become in our media-engulfed world.
Dr. Tepker, the first speaker, presented a lecture entitled: “Is Ignorance Governing Knowledge About the American Constitution?: The Failings of American Mass Media.”
“I hoped to send a message that citizens should care about their Constitution and should study its’ history so they can sort out claims of various politicians and other public figures to figure out the truth for themselves,” Tepker said.
Dr. Jeffrey Metzger, of the Political Science department at CU, has been a vital part of Constitution Day for the past three years. He is in charge of organizing and inviting presenters to the event.
“We had great speakers and a great discussion at the event this year,” Metzger said. “I really enjoyed it.”
Dr. Metzger said that the observance of Constitution Day began with educational facilities shortly after the Sept. 11 attacks, when the U.S. Department of Education made observation of this day a requirement each year for any educational facility that still wished to receive federal funding.
Constitution Day is now an essential day of the year for any school in America and rightfully so, according to panelist, Dr.Gade.
“I don’t think you can overestimate the importance of students knowing why our freedoms exist and the basis for them,” Dr.Gade said.
Constitution Day served as the first meeting of the academic year of the Cameron University Political Science Forum. The CU School of Liberal Arts, the Department of History and Government, and the Lawton Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) sponsored the event. DAR generously provided refreshments and punch for those in attendance immediately following the event.