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Students Exercise Free Speech in Honor of Constitution Day

9/23/2011 —

Penn State Brandywine commemorated National Constitution Day on Friday, Sept. 16, with an open mic forum in the Vairo Library courtyard. Students took to the microphone to answer the question, “Should access to social media be controlled?”

Laura Guertin, associate professor of earth sciences, hosted the annual event and kicked off the discussion by informing students that a recent Pew research poll cited that as many as 60 percent of adults are using some form of social media.

Guertin was drawn to the topic after flash mob activity made headlines over the summer. Here and abroad, mobs formed after calls to assemble were disseminated on Facebook and Twitter. These social media sites enabled participants to coordinate times, places and targets for their violent activity.

In San Francisco last August, officials shut down all cellular service in public transportation areas to prevent smart phone applications from being used to incite mob activity.

Most students agreed that it was unconstitutional to temporarily terminate cell service, even in the event of an emergency.

“Social media should not be controlled,” sophomore honors student Sarah DeMartino stated. “It is not right for people to choose to shut down something like cell phone reception.” She added that people could not call for help if they did not have access to cellular service.

Junior Aimee Ralph said she “is on the fence because social media is a great tool … but if people are going to organize a mob, then it should be monitored.”

National Constitution Day originated in 1952 when Congress passed a law declaring September 17 as a day to celebrate the “signing and formation” of the United State’s Constitution. 

-by Jennifer Santangelo

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