Easy as pie: Exercise free speech during UK's Constitution Day

Lexington Herald-LeaderSeptember 17, 2013 

Buck Ryan, director of the Citizen Kentucky Project of UK's Scripps Howard First Amendment Center, may be reached at buck.ryan@uky.edu.

  • IF YOU GO

    Constitution Day at UK 2013

    When: 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Sept. 17

    Where: North lawn of Main Building, 410 Administration Dr.

    Rain location: Student Center's Cats Den

Bored by headlines in the U.S. Senate race?

Tired of all the attack ads?

Ready for real issues that affect your life?

Welcome to Constitution Day at UK 2013, where we will dish out apple pie, serve you lemonade and free Constitutions, and mostly help We the People set the agenda for the midterm elections.

The University of Kentucky's 10th annual Constitution Day, "Ballot Bomb: Exploring the Young Voter Explosion," will run from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesday on the north lawn of the Main Building at UK.

Ballot Bomb is also the title of my upcoming KET documentary on young voters. The Pew Research Center suggests that if the voting age in Ohio and Florida were 30, we would have elected Mitt Romney as president in 2012.

Truly, young voters, ages 18 to 29, swung the presidential election. Now can they determine the U.S. Senate race?

At UK we call that a research question. My Honors Program students, who are organizing Constitution Day, will let you know once they have crunched all the data.

But first, one student will dress up as Betsy Ross and oversee a pie-eating contest among schoolchildren as one of the judges, Henry Clay himself, looks on. All the Honors students are freshmen, and their enthusiasm in organizing Constitution Day is contagious.

Good news, as my Citizen Kentucky Project is designed to engage young people in civic life. The first chance for them to vote is May 20, the primary election for state and federal offices in Kentucky.

So Constitution Day is just the start of a conversation, particularly among young voters, about the key issues on their minds. Preliminary findings suggest that those key issues include jobs, jobs, jobs, and will I end up with a master's degree, deep in student loan debt, living in my parents' basement?

Last fall, my Honors class embarked on setting a Young Voter's Agenda in the presidential election. On that agenda were education, health care, the environment, taxes and the economy.

This year, thanks to Gayle Hilleke, executive director of Campus Compact, based at Northern Kentucky University, we will be able to extend the conversation from UK to college campuses around the state during the next several months.

If you don't like what you see in the U.S. Senate race, then come to Constitution Day and exercise your freedom of speech, talk with the press, meet candidates in the assembly, deal with issues religiously and, whenever you feel like it, petition the government for redress of grievances.

In other words, Constitution Day at UK is brought to you by the First Amendment.


IF YOU GO

Constitution Day at UK 2013

When: 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Sept. 17

Where: North lawn of Main Building, 410 Administration Dr.

Rain location: Student Center's Cats Den

Buck Ryan, director of the Citizen Kentucky Project of UK's Scripps Howard First Amendment Center, can be reached at buck.ryan@uky.edu

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