Most students who attend UC Berkeley have become numbed to the frequent email spamming from the Chancellor’s office and as a result, the Chancellor takes incredible liberties with the student body list serve. The most recent email absurdity has been a Pro Dream act push, not unusual in and of itself, but absurd because it is in conjunction with the campus’ celebration of Constitution day. The chancellor, after disclaiming that “Federal law requires all schools who receive federal funding to hold educational programs annually to commemorate this anniversary on September 17th each year”, not wanting to confuse anyone into thinking he would honor the constitution otherwise, announces that in order to fulfill this onerous responsibility, the campus will be holding two events. The first is a panel discussion in support of the DREAM act. While the dream act is certainly a hot topic on the liberal legislation agenda in California, its relevance to the Constitution is far less obvious. Nevertheless, the Chancellor believes that his statement “ In observance of Constitution Day, panelists will discuss the DREAM Act in terms of its broader historical context and the meaning of citizenship and the immigrant experience in the United States. They will also examine debates and activism surrounding the DREAM Act as illustrating the conflicting legal, political, and socioeconomic landscape of immigration reform” somehow clarifies that connection between these two vaguely related things.
The second somewhat questionably relevant event that Berkeley is holding to honor Constitution day is the Jefferson Memorial Lecture, given by Professor Roger M. Smith, a political science professor at the university of Pennsylvania. The title of the lecture is ‘The American Experiment: A 21st Century Assessment”. At first glance, this lecture seems more than tangentially related to the spirit of Constitution Day. Upon closer inspection however, it becomes clear that this lecture is yet another foray away from issues of the U.S. Constitution, and towards a discussion of “whether America`s constitutional democracy can form a more perfect union out of its ever-growing diversity”. The direction of the lecture is clear, as Smith is a famous author of books such as “The Unsteady March: The Rise and Decline of Racial Equality in America (with Philip A. Klinkner, 1999)” and “Still a House Divided: Race and Politics in Obama`s America (with Desmond S. King, 2011)”. What remains unclear is how the theme of racial equality, or a push to pass the DREAM act, are relevant themes for the celebration of Constitution day, beyond attempting to fulfill federal requirements with completely unrelated events. ■