Pennsylvania Western University will mark Constitution Day with activities on its California, Clarion and Edinboro campuses. Constitution Day commemorates the formation and signing of the U.S. Constitution on Sept. 17, 1787, and recognition all U.S. citizens, whether by birth or by naturalization.


The celebration begins with a virtual discussion, “Can You Say That?” from 11 to 11:50 a.m. Sept. 16 via Zoom. Join this webinar to discuss free speech and its limitations under the First Amendment.


“Constitution Day commemorates the Constitution that protects our rights and liberties,” said Dr. Debbie Goh, PennWest assistant professor of journalism and event moderator. “This year, we decided to focus on the First Amendment, as current events have made us debate the limits of our freedom of expression, especially when balancing societal interests.” 


Dr. Andrew R. Smith, communication and journalism professor, will present “Political Apparel at the Polls: Restriction of Speech or Protection Against Violence? Reflections on a Supreme Court Case,” and Anthony Sonita, PennWest social media manager, will talk about “The First Amendment in the Social Media Age.”


Dr. James Fisher, interim dean of PennWest College of Social Sciences and Human Services, and Dr. Rhonda Matthews, associate professor in the Department of Sociology, Political Science and Law, will lead “Uncomfortable Conversations: Abortion and Autonomy in Post-Roe America” at 7 p.m. Sept. 19 in Compton 107A, Edinboro campus, and at 7 p.m. Sept. 20 in Hart Chapel, Clarion campus.


"Dr. Matthews and I are excited to have a conversation with those attending, and each other, about this challenging and often polarizing topic,” Fisher said. “Dr. Matthews and I will start with some brief independent observations, respond to each other's remarks, then engage the questions and comments of attendees." 


On all PennWest campuses, those who are not registered to vote may do so at National Voter Registration Day tabling events from 11 2 p.m. Sept. 20 at California’s Natali (second floor), Clarion’s Eagle Commons, and Edinboro’s Frank G. Pogue Student Center. First observed in 2012, National Voter Registration Day is a nonpartisan civic holiday celebrating our democracy. To date, nearly 4.7 million voters have registered to vote on the holiday. 


“We are excited to continue our partnership with the ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge and launch the PennWest Civic Engagement Plan this fall across all campuses,” said Sarah Zerfoss, assistant director ofstudent conduct. “Students will be provided many opportunities to register to vote, learn more about civic engagement, and attend new sessions that may not have been offered to their campus before.”


According to ALL IN CampusDemocracy Challenge, the organization envisions a more engaged and inclusive democracy. Through institutional engagement, direct student engagement, and fostering a national higher education network, ALL IN strives for an electorate that mirrors our country’s makeup and in which college students are democratically engaged on an ongoing basis, during and between elections, and not just at the polls.