Constitution Day 2016 at UK

Constitution Day at UK, Monday, September 19, 2016

The general thematic topic this year is focusing on "Freedom of Expression, Identity and the U.S. Constitution." We want to hear from you. On social media, use our hashtag

Event Time and Place Description of Event Co-Sponsored By
Anytime before deadline for submission (11:59 p.m. EST, Sept. 19th)
Online via the UK Canvas portal

First Amendment Essay Contest - self enroll at
~ for undergraduates only ~ essays limited to 750 words
Cash prizes for 1st place ($500), 2nd place ($300), 3rd place ($200) winners

Writing Prompt: During the Republican National Convention in Cleveland in July, protesters tried to burn a flag of the United States. Although such an act offends many people, the Supreme Court ruled in 1898 and again in1990 that burning the flag is expressive conduct –an act of speech – and protected by the First Amendment. In another First Amendment decision, the Supreme Court ruled unconstitutional the attempt by Congress to regulate the spending of money during political campaigns. In the Citizens United decision in 2010, the majority said campaign contributions are also protected speech.  That means businesses, unions, and organized groups can spend as much money as they choose for ads supporting or opposing candidates as long as they don’t coordinate such spending with the candidates’ campaigns.

Essays must address this question: Should Congress propose an amendment to the Constitution that would allow the federal government and states to make it a crime to burn the United States flag and another amendment to allow legislatures to place limits on the amount of money flowing into political campaigns?

Download flyer (.pdf file) here.

Scripps Howard First Amendment Center,
School of Journalism & Telecommunications,
College of Communication & Information

The 3 winners will be given their awards at the Scripps Howard First Amendment Address Celebration on Sept. 27, 7:00 p.m., Kincaid Auditorium, Gatton College

See last year's winning essay posted on BluegrassBlade (5 Oct 2015).

W.T.Young Gallery Room

“A Thin Veneer of Law: The Modern Evolution of Supreme Court Decisions on Gender and Sexuality”
Presentation by historian Steve Estes, Sonoma State, scholar in LGBTQ history (esp. in oral history, southern landscapes, military service, and conceptions of privacy). Introduction by Lance Poston, Director of LGBTQ* Resources at UK. Introduction by Dr. Lance Poston, Director of LGBTQ* Resources.

Dr. Estes will focus on LGBTQ* experiences and rights connected to “right to privacy” arguments in cases related to gender and sexuality since the 1970s - specifically about 5th and 14th Amendment questions raised in multiple cases and that have contributed to significant turning points for LGBTQ* rights in the US.


Office of Institutional Diversity
12:30 p.m.
W.T. Young Auditorium

International Perspectives of Freedom of Speech
Speech by Ambassador Anupam Ray - focusing on freedom of expression and the U.S. Constitution's First Amendment from an international perspective. Introduction by Professor Kathleen Montgomery, UK Patterson School of Diplomacy and International Commerce.

All are invited to the reception in the Gallery following Mr. Ray's talk.

Download flyer for the event here (.pdf file).

UK Graduate School; Martin School of Public Policy and Administration; and, Patterson School of Diplomacy and International Commerce
3-5 p.m.
W.T. Young Auditorium

Faculty Speech and Academic Freedom
Presentation by Professor Scott Bauries (UK College of Law) with introduction by Professor John Thelin (UK College of Education).

Download flyer for the event here (.pdf file).

University Senate

Noon - 3 p.m.
White Hall portico

Refreshments, Voter Registration and Prizes
Apple pie, lemonade and pocket Constitutions will be served to all passers-by, courtesy of the President's Office! Students will have the opportunity to sign up for TurboVote, a service provided by UKSAG, which aims to ease access to new voter registration tools and can provide students with information about polling locations and Election Day reminders via text message. Every student who signs up for TurboVote will be entered in a drawing to win a "swag bag" of UK apparel and gear from the UK Bookstore. Posters will promote the Constitution Day at UK theme including information about obtaining absentee ballots, the Bill of Rights, and First Amendment protections on campus.

Organized by B. Gammon Fain '18, Director of Government Relations, UK SGA

UK Student Government

2:00 - 4:00 p.m.
Whitehall Classroom Building
room 238

The First Amendment: The Patriotism of Protest

The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution famously includes the right to freedom of speech, but also the “right to petition government for redress of grievances”, meaning the right to make complaint to or seek the assistance of the government without fear of punishment.  Throughout U.S. history, prominent public figures have used this right to draw attention to social injustices, but often, these protests are met with criticisms and questioning the patriotism of the protestors.  Join us for a discussion about these issues and more!.

Organized by Deshana Collett (Health Sciences) and Quentin Tyler (CAFE), co-chairs of the student committee for the UK Unconscious Bias Initiative and Kahlil Baker of the MLK Center.

Download flyer (.pdf file) for the event here.

The UK Unconscious Bias Initiative student committee and the MLK Center
5 p.m.
Reception in W.T.Young Gallery
6:00-7:30 p.m.
Forum in W.T. Young Auditorium

Town Hall Forum: “Safe Spaces, Freedom of Speech and the American College Campus: Safe or free? For whom?”

Panelists: Patty Bender (UK EEO and Title IX Coordinator), Dr. Lance Poston (LGBTQ* Resources), Dr. Scott Bauries (College of Law), Dr. Anastasia Curwood (History and African American & Africana Studies, College of Arts & Sciences), Dr. Carol Mason (Gender & Women Studies, College of Arts & Sciences) 
Moderator: Dr. Phil Harling, Director of Gaines Center for Humanities & Interim Dean of the Honors College

Over the last 12 months, the debate pitting freedom of speech on college campuses and the desire to create safe spaces for historically marginalized groups has grown increasingly confrontational. 

  • In December 2015, a Yale University faculty member resigned from her position after students protested an email she wrote about Halloween costumes that had been considered offensive.
  • A University of Missouri lecturer was suspended, and eventually fired, for trying to forcibly remove police from a self-proclaimed “media-free” zone during race-related protests in 2015 – demonstrations which eventually led to the resignation of the university president himself.
  • In April 2016, students at Emory University complained to administrators that pro-Donald Trump messages found written in chalk on their campus were both oppressive and threatening, leading to emergency meetings between school officials and student representatives.

Some argue that campus policies regarding such issues as safe spaces, trigger warnings, and microaggression, at best “coddle” university students, and, at worst, pose a fundamental threat to freedom of speech and expression.  Others argue that such policies are needed to create an environment of inclusivity and safety in a hostile landscape. UK’s Constitution Day Town Hall Forum seeks to thoughtfully and respectfully assess the complicated history and intersection between safe spaces and freedom of speech on campus, and to explore potential paths moving forward.

Download flyer (.pdf file) here.

Division of Student and Academic Life in the Provost's Office for Academic Excellence

We wish to thank Dr. Matthew Giancarlo, Associate Professor, Department of English, UK College of Arts & Sciences, for his leadership and service in making Constitution Day 2016 happen.


Want to follow up on these issues with more on the Constitution and citizenship? Sign up for the AAC&U webinar series (free) starting in October 2016:

See details about Constitution Day 2015 here.