PLEASANTVILLE, N.Y. -- On Monday, Sept. 19, Pace University hosted a roundtable discussion on freedom of speech, freedom of expression, and voting rights through the lens of a college student. Assemblyman Tom Abinanti, who represents New York’s 92nd Assembly District, spoke with the group of more than 20 Pace students.
The event was held in honor of Constitution Day, which is a national day of observance that recognizes the adoption of the United States Constitution and those who have become U.S. citizens.
During the roundtable event Abinanti discussed the right of expression, right of self-expression and what he called the ultimate right, “the right to vote.” Abinanti spoke with the students about the original Constitution and the amendments that were adopted. “The Constitution is 139 years old, the issues are still there and the resolution of the issues is still evolving.”
“The original Constitution was not so pure,” said Abinanti. “It took amendments to the Constitution, little by little, to guarantee women the right to vote, to prohibit discrimination on the basis of race or color, on the basis of sex, and now the U.S. Constitution allows 18 year olds the right to vote when it used to be 21.”
Abinanti wants the students to know their rights and “be challenged.”
“Isn’t this what you are going to school for? To learn how to think? To learn how to critically look at stuff? To learn how to say that is right and that is wrong? You are not going to have someone there telling you what to think, you have to learn how to think for yourself. If you can’t be challenged in school, where can you be challenged?” Abinanti encouraged students to understand the issues, ask questions and argue in favor of the original intent of the Constitution.
“I was pleased to lead a stimulating roundtable discussion with some engaged and thoughtful Pace students about the constitutional issues that naturally arise every day in a university environment,” he said.