Ball State University’s College of Communication, Information, and Media (CCIM) and Office of Inclusive Excellence are hosting an event to celebrate the Constitution of the United States, as well as the rights and responsibilities of student journalists.

“The First Amendment: A Constitution Day Conversation” will be held at 9 a.m. on Constitution Day, Friday, Sept. 17, at Sursa Performance Hall on Ball State’s campus, and livestreamed at Students, faculty and staff, and members of the public are encouraged to attend this free event.

The highlight of the event will be a panel discussion moderated by Gene Policinski, Freedom Forum Senior Fellow, that features Indiana State Representatives Ed Clere (R-New Albany) and Ed DeLaney (D-Indianapolis); Taylor Smith, editor of the Ball State Daily News; and Stan Sollars, host of Morning Edition on Ball State Public Media.

“Ball State is committed to Freedom of Expression as enshrined in the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and Ball State’s Bill of Rights and Responsibilities. We are grateful for the opportunity to showcase one way in which we support that freedom and the constitution—the rights and responsibilities of our student journalists,” said Dr. Paaige Turner, CCIM dean. “We are looking forward to a lively discussion between our state representatives and campus media leaders about the importance of student press freedom, and what can happen if those rights are not protected.”

Spreading awareness to educate and engage the general public on the rights and responsibilities of student journalists, and why student press freedom is important, is a hallmark of what are known as New Voices laws.

New Voices is a nonpartisan movement of community members who seek to protect student press freedom with state laws. These laws counteract the impact of the 1988 Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier Supreme Court decision that upheld a decision by public high school administrators in suburban St. Louis to censor stories from a school-sponsored student newspaper. The ruling was a dramatic break from nearly two decades of law that had given student journalists extensive First Amendment protections.

In Indiana, Reps. Clere and DeLaney have mounted multiple bipartisan efforts to secure New Voices legislation for the state’s student journalists, citing the work a successful bill would do to provide more young people an opportunity to learn how to practice ethical, responsible journalism.

The Ball State University and greater area communities are served by Ball State Public Media and Ball State Student Media—among them the Ball State Daily News, which is celebrating its 100th anniversary during the 2021-22 academic year.

September 17 is designated as Constitution Day and Citizenship Day to commemorate the signing of the U.S. Constitution in Philadelphia on Sept. 17, 1787. Through the Bill of Rights and the rest of the 27 amendments, the U.S. has changed its Constitution to protect rights, expand participation, and refine government powers.

Masks will be required for all event attendees, regardless of vaccination status. For more information on Ball State’s COVID-19 policies, visit the Cardinals Care website.

In addition to the celebratory event, University Libraries will be displaying a recent acquisition of a framed U.S. Constitution in BL215 from 1-5 p.m. Library resources related to the First Amendment and the U.S. Constitution will also be on display and available for checkout in the lobby of Bracken Library.