Week of events to celebrate citizenship at Hamilton and Middletown campuses

About 100 people will be will take the oath of citizenship at the annual naturalization ceremony at Miami University Regionals Hamilton campus on Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2019. NICK GRAHAM/FILE
About 100 people will be will take the oath of citizenship at the annual naturalization ceremony at Miami University Regionals Hamilton campus on Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2019. NICK GRAHAM/FILE

Miami University Regionals will once again dedicate a week to what it means to be an American.

Citizenship and Democracy Week begins today with events at both the university’s Middletown and Hamilton campuses, including the week’s keynote address featuring the lead plaintiffs in the 1969 Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District, which defined First Amendment rights of students. John and Mary Beth Tinker will speak at 7 p.m. today at Parrish Auditorium in Hamilton about the First Amendment and the state of free speech rights in America today.

“It’s also a chance for all of us to pause for a moment and reflect on our own rights and responsibilities as American citizens and to reaffirm our shared commitment to the values of equality, respect, dignity and civic responsibility that lie at the heart of our democratic system of government,” said political science professor John Forren.

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The week’s marquee event is the naturalization ceremony at Miami University Hamilton’s quad at 10 a.m. Tuesday. It’s the fifth year for the ceremony, where nearly 350 people took the oath of citizenship, and about 100 more will this week.

“It really is a highlight of the year for us on the Regionals,” Forren said. “On the one hand, it’s a lot of fun for us to be able to help roughly 100 families celebrate what is a very happy and important day in their lives.”

The Miami University Regionals ceremony is one of more than 300 that will welcome more than 34,300 new citizens between Sept. 13 and 23. Sept. 17 is Constitution Day, the day the U.S. Constitution was signed in 1787. The day is also known as Citizenship Day, which began in 1952, and starts Constitution Week, which runs from Sept. 17-23.

During the last decade, more than 7.2 million people have become naturalized citizens, according to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Between 700,000 and 750,000 people are naturalized as new citizens each year, and more than 756,000 were naturalized in federal fiscal year 2018, according to the USCIS.

PAST NATURALIZATION CEREMONIES:

99 become American citizens at Hamilton ceremony in 2018

85 take oath for citizenship at Miami University Hamilton in 2017

86 people become new American citizens during Butler County ceremony in 2016

72 new American citizens take oath at Miami Hamilton in 2015

Citizenship and Democracy Week in Hamilton and Middletown also includes opportunities for the public to learn about American democracy and see government in action. Some of the events include:

Monday to Friday: Democracy Wall and Voter Registration. The Hamilton and Middletown campuses will have a Democracy Wall (outside of Rentschler Hall in Hamilton and adjacent to Hawk Haven in Johnston Hall in Middletown) to share thoughts on the question: "What does it mean to be a good citizen?"

People can also register to vote in November’s general election at the Regionals’ Center for Social Impact, located at 105 Mosler Hall in Hamilton and Verity Lodge in Middletown.

Monday: 12th District Court of Appeals. From 10 to 11 a.m., the appeals court will be at the Harry T. Wilks Conference Center on the Hamilton campus for the public to hear oral arguments in a special session.

Tuesday: Constitution Day Pizza Party. From 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Schwarm Hall on the Hamilton campus and Hawk Haven on the Middletown campus, those who read a line of the Constitution will receive free pizza.

Wednesday: Documentary. The school will present the award-winning 2019 Sundance Film Festival documentary that follows the journey of four long-shot candidates who ran for the U.S. House of Representatives in 2018. The event is from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Miami Regionals Hamilton Downtown Center, 221 High Street, Hamilton.

Thursday: The co-authors of Miami University's Ohio Civic Health Index Report will discuss the state of democracy in Ohio, and how residents can get more involved. The presentation is from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. at 203 Phelps Hall on the Hamilton campus.

For the full calendar of events, visit miamioh.edu/regionals.