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Stop-and-Frisk Takes Center Stage on Constitution Day 2013

Monday, September 30, 2013

Constitutional issues stemming from the New York City Police Department’s stop-and-frisk policy, the National Security Agency’s domestic spying program and United States intervention in Syria dominated this year’s Constitution Day debates at St. John’s University.

The annual event, which is part of the PARTICIPATE program, an initiative dedicated to promoting greater student familiarity with the country’s political process, took place  Tuesday, September 16, on the Queens campus and Wednesday, September 17, on the Staten Island campus.

Brian Browne, Assistant Vice President for Government Relations, moderated the Queens campus debate by members of the College Democrats, College Republicans and the Young Americans for Liberty. The audience was also invited to ask questions.

The Office of the Provost provided a table at the D’Angelo Center with information about stop-and-frisk, Congressional matters pending before Congress and basic facts about the Constitution. Students also took online tests measuring their knowledge of the Constitution.

On Staten Island, a panel consisting of students and faculty members focused on the constitutionality of the stop-and-frisk program. Commentary was also provided by Ellen Boegel, J.D., Associate Professor of Criminal Justice and Legal Studies, and William Byrne, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Government and Politics. Bryne complimented the student participants for making the issue so understandable and said, “This has been a great learning experience for everyone.”

Adia Cotten ’16C said the debate raised questions about aspects of stop-and-frisk that she had not previously considered, especially about stereotyping. “The speakers opened my eyes to the many sides of this issue,” she said.

For Victor Serrano ’16C, the discussion helped him consider the benefits of stop-and-frisk for the community as a whole. “There is always going to be a good side and a bad side to everything,” he said.