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The Scarlet & Black

Grinnell’s Constitution Day honors naturalized citizens

By Nickol Kreutzian

In the last year, more than 700,000 individuals have become naturalized citizens of the United States. On September 17, the College seeks to honor those in the Grinnell community who have undergone the naturalization process at any point in their lives.

The event is being held as a reception with a slideshow of information on those in the community who have been naturalized and more information on what the process looks like for those who are unfamiliar. “Our intent is to celebrate citizenship,” said Laureen Van Wyk, program coordinator for the Joe Rosenfield Program.

The inspiration for this Constitution Day event came from seeing people on social media sharing their stories of becoming citizens.

As part of the reception, there will be cards with questions from the citizenship test. “There’s going to be answers on the back,” said Barb Trish, Director of the Joe Rosenfield Program. “We just want to give a window into what these individuals have demonstrated. It gives a direct connection to Constitution Day because there’s not a lot in the constitution about citizenship.” The civics test taken by those hoping to become naturalized citizens consists of 10 randomly selected questions from a set of 100 questions about the United States government and the Constitution.

The Constitution Day celebration is not the only event to celebrate the ratification of the Constitution on campus. Each year, the College organizes some sort of event or other to bring attention and awareness to government and international affairs. This year, a professor from Moritz College of Law at Ohio State University will give an address on Sept. 19.

“He will talk more concretely about the Constitution and the electoral college and possible ways to reform it within the constraints provided by the Constitution. There will be discussion as well on what could happen in 2020 if the electoral vote and the popular vote don’t align,” Trish said.

The goal of these programs is to help align the current discussions happening in the broader community and bring them on campus. “We want to connect with current events,” Trish said. For example, the upcoming Fall Caucus Tour.

The Rosenfield Program strives to bring students and community members together to talk and learn about current events in the world. Its mission is to educate on public affairs, international relations and human rights. “We want to bring people to campus so that students can learn from them,” Trish said. “We also want to take students off campus and allow them to learn from other communities.”

Overall, the response to theConstitution Day Celebration has been mostly positive. “We’ve had a lot of people say that this is a great idea. You always wonder about potential negatives, but we want to think of it as a celebration of people who have chosen to become citizens and the process they’ve undergone,” Trish said.

The event will be held in the HSSC Atrium starting at 7 p.m. on September 17. Members of the Grinnell Community and students are welcome to attend.

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