constitution day

Marquetta Anderson (left), a member of Triton Toastmasters, presents her winning Constitution Day speech at the Millennium Student Center. (Photo by Ryan Heinz)

University of Missouri–St. Louis students, staff and faculty showed their patriotic stripes Wednesday during the university’s annual Constitution Day celebration.

Constitution Day is an observance led by the American Democracy Project. The celebration is a chance for the UMSL community to reflect on the Constitution’s authors’ purpose and idealism, said Deborah Burris, director of UMSL’s Office for Equal Opportunity and chief diversity officer.

“Whether the authors realized it or not, they created a document that was timeless, that was unlimited in its definition,” Burris said during her opening remarks in the main program at the Millennium Student Center. This is especially critical when we look at the issues faced by our community today, Ferguson and beyond.”

Sean Marshall

Sean Marshall, a UMSL senior, explains his role of timer during the Triton Toastmasters’ Constitution Day competition. (Photo by Ryan Heinz)

The event in the Nosh also featured a reading of the Constitution’s preamble by student Amy Cabanas and an introduction by Chancellor Tom George.

The centerpiece of the afternoon’s events was a competition from Triton Toastmasters, a public-speaking organization. The event featured prepared speeches by Marquetta Anderson, front office and corporate accounts assistant at St. Louis Public Radio, and Ron Gossen, senior associate vice chancellor for University Marketing and Communications, and the extemporaneous Table Topics category. In Anderson’s winning speech, she focused on the first three words of the preamble, “We the People.”

“We are the people,” Anderson said. “We are the people that make decisions. We are the people that empower others.”

Gossen focused on the Constitution and its guarantees of free expression.

“As we address injustice, be ever mindful that justice isn’t free, that justice doesn’t come cheaply, but rather, extracts a commitment to rule of law and the constructs of a civil society,” Gossen said.

Other events included a screening and discussion of the documentary “Restrepo,” a lecture on American military power and paintings by UMSL students.

The UMSL Experience

Rachel Webb

Rachel Webb