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The Willard Preacher had competition yesterday as students stood nearby and read passages from banned books to celebrate their Constitutional rights on Constitution Day.

Throughout campus, students read books and articles from the Constitution while standing near "writers blocks" -- black geometric structures students were encouraged to write their opinions on with chalk. Each block represented a question related to Constitutional freedoms.

Two blocks rested outside of the HUB-Robeson Center, three in between Forum and the Palmer Museum of Art and two more outside of the Willard Building.

Tara Branigan (freshman-division of undergraduate studies) helped set up the Willard blocks as part of her political science class. She was also involved in picking the questions.

"We tried to pick questions we thought would spark interest," she said

Questions included "Are you a good citizen if you don't vote?" and "Is torture justifiable?"

Students' writings ranged from serious to sarcastic. One student answered the torture question with "only for Jack Bauer," referring to the popular television drama character on 24.

A block placed behind Willard Preacher Gary Cattell asked if creationism should be taught in schools. Cattell mentioned the block in his daily sermon, calling a creationism textbook the ultimate banned book.

Voter registration volunteers from Democracy Matters, Represent Penn State, P.S.U. Vote and other student groups were out in full force at each of the writers block locations.

Matt Popek, Represent Penn State president and chairman of P.S.U. Vote, hopes the blocks and the readings brought attention to the issue of voting.

"The point is getting as many people to notice as possible," Popek (senior-geography) said in between reading the first and second articles of the Constitution aloud.

Though all publicly funded schools are required to celebrate Constitution Day, Penn State celebrates the holiday in its own special way, said Jeremy Cohen, associate vice president and senior associate dean for undergraduate education.

"At Penn State, we've tried to involve students in this so it's more than just a bunch of faculty giving speeches and wagging their fingers," said Cohen, who has been in charge of the university's Constitution Day activities for the last four years.

Cohen said Americans should take the time to appreciate the freedoms granted to them by the Constitution.

"So many of the issues that confront us as American citizens are rooted in the Constitution, and we don't even know it because we don't spend enough time studying the Constitution," he said.

It's important for students to express their opinions, Alex Pianovich (freshman-biology) said after writing on a block.

His answer to the question "Should freedom of speech protect aggressive religious preaching on college campuses?" was succinct.

"1st Amendment -- End of Story," he wrote.

COLLEGIAN STAFF WRITER |