Constitution day, a strong stand to protect and expand Civil liberties


By Taylor Baker

The college held a lecture and discussion on Immigrants and the U.S. Constitution on the Ammerman Campus in the Montauk Point room in the Babylon Student Center on Sept. 22.

Constitution Day- Guest Speaker Amol Sinha

Students on campus came to learn more about the Constitution. The college also had the lecture on the Grant and Eastern Campuses as well to talk about these issues.

The college had a guest speaker come in to speak with everyone on each campus; Amol Sinha, the director of the Suffolk Chapter of the New York Civil Liberties Union. The Suffolk Center on the Holocaust, Diversity and Human Understanding has partnered with the Offices of Campus Activities in hosting this year’s Constitution day seminar.

Amol Sinha was born in Philadelphia and raised in New Jersey; Amol earned a B.A. in Journalism and economics from New York University and a law degree from the Benjamin N. Cardoza school of Law, where he focused on constitutional rights and litigation. During college he worked at various non-profit organizations including the international AIDS vaccine initiative. He also taught Journalism to inner city high school students. Before the event he made a statement about what he hopes to expect.

“I’m looking forward to taking a strong stand to protect and expand civil liberties and rights here in Suffolk County.” Amol Sinha said.

“I’m proud to be serving such a vibrant community and look forward to working with our members to fight for justice and fairness.” Said Sinha.

Constitution day has been going on for several years in which campus activities are responsible for annually offering a constitution day program which are part of a congressional mandate, which colleges have to do. For several years Professor Barbara Ripel from the history department ran the Constitution day program.

Last year Constitution day did a program on the new Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor and had a panel discussion on the impact that she has had on the Latino community. This year they offered to campus activities that the Suffolk Center on the Holocaust, Diversity, and Human Understanding would conduct the program.

“We have a special interest in doing programming that helps promote better understanding of cultural differences in general and helping to promote values that embrace a human dignity. So we thought this was a great way to bring those issues together here and at the same time studding the constitution and civil liberties and human rights in bringing that together in how immigrants are being treated in this country.” Said Steven Schrier, Professor of Business Law and Political Science at Suffolk.

30 to 40 people attended the Constitution day program, which lasted approximately an hour to an hour and a half long. Steven Schrier, who took his class to the assembly. He also introduced Amol Sinha, who spoke about the Constitution and immigrants.

“I want to learn more about the Constitution and be better informed,” said Pola Griego, Assistant Professor for Sociology at the college.

The focus of Mr. Sinha’s talk was on how constitutional liberties have faired subsequent to 9/11, and that 9/11 was being felt as such a defining moment of people’s concern, about national security in what actions to take, and how there may have been some compromises made in order to provide for security in which people have been deprived of their liberties.

“Amol has been familiar with these kinds of issues and he could bring his view point to it and stimulate some kind of thought and discussion among others and around the college community,” said Schrier.

He talked about the 9/11 after-effect, the negativity and somewhat hatred toward Muslims after 9/11, a branded stereotype that lies upon them. During the 9/11 attacks, constitutional right did not apply. He also talked about the post-9/11 world where in certain states Sharia Law, which many Muslims practice, was banned.

He talked about how some people got caught up as suspects and have had liberties taken from them, and from Amol’s prospective is a problem that needs to be focused on. Amol also brought up Long Island and how police were racially profiling Muslims and looking for them. After speaking he opened up the floor to a (Q&A) question and answer. He told a student if you see something make sure you’re local legislator knows about it.

“I felt it was important and I enjoyed it,” said third semester student, Kimberly Romano, who was there for a history class.

“We shouldn’t take these assumptions for granted and to sacrifice liberty; we should hold representatives and law enforcement accountable,” said Sinha.

“I think he’s a very dedicated, passionate spokesperson for protecting civil liberties and I think he understands the security concerns but doesn’t want to see us compromise that because this is a nation about protecting these fundamental liberties and that we shouldn’t give them up in the face of these kinds of threats,” Professor Schrier said.

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