CSB and SJU to celebrate Constitution Day Sept. 17

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August 30, 2018

Hannah Quinn

Hannah Quinn

Kevin Poindexter ’10

Kevin Poindexter ’10

Face it – Constitution Day falls somewhere south of July 4 or even National Doughnut Day in the minds of most Americans.

But on Sept. 17, the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University join 12 other private and public colleges and universities in Minnesota in observing Constitution Day. Each college recommits to preparing students for effective engagement in democracy through dialogue and deliberation in addressing one of the country’s greatest needs: better communication.

The CSB/SJU Political Science Department is hosting a panel discussion, “Do I Count? Does My Vote Count?” at 7:30 p.m. Monday, Sept. 17, at the Founders Room (room 170), Quadrangle Building, SJU. The event is free and open to the public.

The focus will be on the importance of voting, including how turnout affects outcomes and the outreach efforts by both parties, especially with the midterm election coming up in November. College students are being encouraged to consider voting to be more than just what they do; being “a voter” is an identity to be supported and encouraged.

The panel consists of four individuals – two who work within the Republican Party and two within the Democratic Party. Three are SJU graduates. The participants include:

  • Hannah Quinn, who is the deputy training and party affairs director of the Minnesota DFL Party;
  • Kevin Poindexter, a 2010 SJU graduate (political science degree) who is the executive director of the Republican Party in Minnesota;
  • Kyle Smith, a 2016 SJU graduate (political science degree) who is the deputy organizing director of the Minnesota DFL Party;
  • Kory Kleven, a 2016 SJU graduate (political science degree) who is the Minnesota state director of the Republican National Committee.

According to the New York Times newspaper, about three dozen U.S. House of Representatives races considered competitive this year were won in 2016 by margins smaller than the number than the number of college students living in the district.

Despite the closeness of those elections, abysmally low turnout by young people has long been a hallmark of American elections, particularly in midterm election years, the Times reported. In 2014, the last midterm election year, only 18 percent of young people voted, compared with 37 percent of the general population.

According to the U.S. Senate, Constitution Day was established to “encourage all Americans to learn more about the Constitution. Congress established Constitution Week in 1956 “to begin each year on Sept. 17, the date in 1787 when delegates to the Convention signed the Constitution.”

In 2004, Sen. Robert Byrd of West Virginia included key provisions in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of Fiscal Year 2005 designating Sept. 17 as “Constitution Day.”  

The local observance of Constitution Day is co-sponsored by United Politics; the CSB/SJU Democrats; the CSB/SJU College Republicans; and the Eugene J. McCarthy Center for Public Policy and Civic Engagement at CSB/SJU.