Iona celebrates Constitution Day


Photo Courtesy of Architect of Capitol

Iona observes the 234th anniversity of the signing of the Constitution.

Jocelyn Arroyo-Ariza, News Editor

Last Friday was the 234th anniversary of the signing of the United States’ constitution.  

Constitution Day was first recognized as a federal day of observance in 2004 after Congress passed legislation to honor the ratification of the U.S Constitution on Sept. 17, 1787. The day is also known as Citizenship Day.   


To celebrate the holiday, the Student Government Association encouraged students to learn more about the famous document, ranging from general questions to those questions that would cause debate in political science classes. SGA also gave out cookies perfect for that lunchtime sweet tooth and squishable gavels to those who stopped by the Spellman Portico.  


Gaels also had the chance to register to vote in person and learn about what is on the ballot this election. They were informed of the importance of local elections and what is possibly at stake in their county as well as learning the history of Constitution Day.  



Listed are several of their questions: 


Q: What type of election is 2021?  


A: The 2021 election is an off-year election, which is a general election in which neither a presidential election or midterm election is held.  


Q: What elections will be held in New York? 


A: There are several mayor elections in Albany, Buffalo, and New York City. Two special elections will be held to fill vacant seats in the New York Legislature. Borough president elections will be held in Bronx county, Kings county, New York County, Queens County and Richmond County.  


Q: What are the statewide ballot proposals? 


A: There are five major ballot proposals. First is a proposed constitutional amendment that would freeze the number of state senators at 63, amend the process for the counting of the state’s population, delete certain provisions that violate the US Constitution, repeal and amend certain requirements for the appointment of the co-executive directors of the redistricting commission and amend the manner of drawing district lines for congressional and state legislative offices. Second is a proposed amendment to Article I of the New York Constitution to establish the right of clear air and water and a healthful environment for each person. Third is a proposed amendment to eliminate the ten-day-advance voter registration requirement. Fourth is a proposed amendment to authorize no-excuse absentee ballot voting. Finally, there is a proposed amendment that would increase the jurisdiction of the New York City Civil Court.  


Q: How did Constitution Day become a holiday?  

A: In brief there were three major figures that contributed to federal recognition of Constitution Day. In 1939, William Randolph Hearst suggested that there should be a holiday to celebrate American citizenship. The New York City news tycoon had connections that facilitated Congress to designate the third Sunday in May as “I am an American Day.” In 1952, Olga T. Weber petitioned the leaders of the municipality to change the date of the holiday to the anniversary of the signing of the U.S. Constitution. Eventually, Dwight D. Eisenhower signed a law that changed the “I am an American Day” observation to “Citizenship Day” and moved the date to Sept. 17. Finally, Louise Leigh founded a nonprofit organization in 1997 to encourage the recognition of Constitution Day. Her efforts were awarded seven years later with the passing of the “Constitution Day” amendment to the Omnibus Spending Bill officially recognizing Constitution Day alongside Citizenship Day as a holiday.  


There was one persistent question on which Gaels had trouble settling on a concrete answer. What was America “founded” on?  Political Science professors Dr. Jeanne Zaino and Dr. Mary Hagerty believe that the country was founded on certain principles. 


Q: What you think America was “founded” on? 


Dr. Zaino: In my view our government, under our current and second Constitution, was founded on a profound commitment to protectionism. Specifically, protection of liberty, which is freedom from government. There are important examples of our basic liberties in the Bill of Rights, as well as a few critical liberties in the body of the original Constitution. This commitment to liberty is important to understand because it explains a lot about how we live today and what our government does and does not do. 


Dr. Hagerty: Americans have common faith in the Declaration of Independence; in particular the 14th Amendment. ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.’  


Those who are eligible can use New York’s DMV online service to register to vote, join a political party, change your party designation, or update your name and address on file with the Board of Elections. Those who register online should wait up to six weeks for processing. New York allows both absentee and early voting.  


Election Day is Nov. 2, with polls open from 6 am to 9pm. The early voting period is from Oct. 23 to Oct. 31.