To celebrate Constitution Day on Tuesday, Binghamton University’s Center for Civic Engagement (CCE) joined College Republicans and College Libertarians to table on the Spine to spread knowledge about the Constitution and the beginnings of American government.
The tables included free pocket Constitutions, readily available voter registration and a trivia game where students could earn prizes.
Mitchell Brooks, voter engagement coordinator for the CCE and a first-year graduate student studying public health, said the CCE helps students register to vote, and his goal yesterday was to get as many students engaged as possible.
“The best thing is the knowledge and awareness that these things do matter,” Brooks said. “The Constitution is super important, and it’s important to know what it says — especially the Bill of Rights. It’s important to be registered to vote, make sure your registration is up to date, know what’s coming up on the ballot and where you’re supposed to go.”
Although the student groups organized their tabling event separately from the CCE, their goals were similar. John Restuccia, president of both College Republicans and College Libertarians and a junior majoring in political science, said he wanted everyone to be involved.
“I think we’re putting a bipartisan spin on it — left, right, whatever, I think the Constitution is important for everyone,” Restuccia said. “I want not only college conservatives to get involved, but the progressives and the College Democrats to get involved.”
According to Preston Scagnelli, speaker and campus coordinator for College Republicans and a freshman majoring in accounting, the club began the morning with 300 total pocket Constitutions, and had successfully handed out all of them within three hours.
“I think the best thing that students got out of it was they got some knowledge about the basis on which their country is founded on,” Scagnelli said. “I think every American, regardless of where you politically lean, should know about the laws of the country that they are from or that they’re residing in.”
At the CCE table, Brooks made sure students understood their right to register to vote in the county they attend school, which is important for the election cycle coming up in a few weeks.
“Next, we’re voting Nov. 5 on the state level — we’re having a new New York Supreme Court Justice, and all of Binghamton City Council is up for election,” Brooks said. “We’re trying to get as many students registered, and we do an Election Day party on campus. Students can register to vote in the Union, cast their ballot and have some pizza.”
Restuccia said he is concerned about the level of interest in civic engagement among many in his generation.
“I think, right now, the issue with campus is that we’re politically apathetic,” Restuccia said. “The problem with politically apathetic campuses is that students just aren’t trying to get people engaged.”
To provide students with the resources necessary to get involved, the CCE office offers a service listing of nearly 300 community partners that students could connect with, according to Brooks.
“Students can go through that list and see everything that’s available and then reach out directly to those organizations,” Brooks said. “We’re kind of the intermediary for off-campus orgs and students here. We’re always here to help students if they need service hours, internships or volunteerism. We really have students in mind when we do things.”