ABINGTON, Pa. — The Penn State Abington campus community marked Constitution Day with an event featuring speaker Nina Ahmad, president of the Pennsylvania Chapter of the National Organization for Women, who encouraged students to educate themselves on the issues, vote, and lift others through the process.
Ahmad explained that as an immigrant who escaped politically fueled violence in Bangladesh, she treasures the American promise as outlined in the ever-evolving U.S. Constitution.
“The Constitution gives us the power to determine our own destiny. Every day we literally have to fight to protect democracy and be zealous in our support of the Constitution,” she said.
Ahmad acknowledged that younger people live in an era of information overload, and she advised them to sift through the noise so they can form their own opinions.
“You have so many influences in your life telling you what to do or what to be, and finding your voice in that cacophony is difficult. Find a safe space so you can hear your own voice. Be accountable to yourself and learn to use our freedoms effectively,” Ahmad, who is a scientist by training, said.
Not all countries adhere to their constitutional documents, she reminded the faculty, staff and students gathered in Lubert Commons.
“We are a nation of laws, and we are fighting to interpret and apply them equitably. That brings up the challenge of working with people who don’t think like us. Start by having genuine conversations with each other,” Ahmad said.
We need to fight for the world, but we need to do it responsibly and thoughtfully by bringing everybody along. Keep those with the least foremost in our minds.
—Nina Ahmad , president, Pennsylvania Chapter of the National Organization for Women
Off-year elections, such as this November when neither a presidential election or nor a mid-term election takes place, are challenging because citizens may not think their votes have an impact. Ahmad disputed that belief.
“Although it may seem that there are only a few people to vote for in 2023, each election has a long arc such as with statewide judiciary elections. More seats come up for election later, and the person you voted for this year will be in office for some time. Take the long view,” she said.
Finally, Ahmad extolled the students to think carefully about how candidates will impact their lives and to consider others, especially when it comes to reproductive justice and climate change.
“These issues impact the world you are inheriting. We need to fight for the world, but we need to do it responsibly and thoughtfully by bringing everybody along. Keep those with the least foremost in our minds. If we lift their boat, we lift all the boats,” she said.
Nicole Stokes, division head for Social Sciences, Business, and Education and professor of sociology, offered the audience copies of the Constitution and asked them to review it often as reminder of the their primary rights and responsibilities as citizens.
“We want you to be engaged citizens who understand the protocols and processes. What are our rights as individuals? What are the rights attached to our identities? It’s important even if you are not a citizen to pause and consider those important questions,” she said.
Register to Vote
Oct. 23, is the last day to register to vote in the Nov. 7 election. Find voting resources at Penn State Abington Voting. As of Sept. 19, all Pennsylvania residents may automatically register to vote when obtaining a driver's license or state identification.
About Penn State Abington
Penn State Abington provides an affordable, accessible and high-impact education to its diverse student body. It is committed to student success through innovative approaches to 21st-century public higher education within a world-class research university. With more than 3,100 students, Penn State Abington is a residential campus that offers bachelor’s degrees in 25 majors, undergraduate research, the Schreyer Honors College, NCAA Division III athletics and more.