Women political leaders, gerrymandering, and alcohol and the law will be the topics of discussion during USC Aiken's annual Constitution Week from Tuesday to Thursday. 

Dr. Sarah Young, an assistant professor of political science, will lead a panel discussion, “Women Leading in Our Community: Elected Officials and Candidates Discuss Women's Rights and Political Leadership.” The discussion will be from 11 a.m. to 12:40 p.m. Tuesday in the Student Activities mezzanine.

The panelists will include Aiken County Council member Camille Furgiuele, Aiken City Council member Gail Diggs and S.C. House candidate Elise Fox.

“We wanted to highlight a really important phenomenon: the insurgence of women, more women running for office, more women stepping up as candidates but also winning,” Young said.

Dr. Matt Thornburg, an assistant professor of political science, will speak on “Gerrymandering: Where the Politicians Pick the Voters” from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. Wednesday in Penland Room 106.

His discussion will focus on what gerrymandering is, its common techniques and recent legal developments going into the 2020 redistricting cycle, which will set the legislative districts for the next decade.

“It's important to understand how the role of something that seems so ordinary and mundane – drawing district boundaries – has a powerful effect and the very contentious politics that surround that,” Thornburg said. “When voters get their registration cards and they say they're in this Congressional district and this state legislative district, it's not by chance. It's by design. It seems very random, but there's definitely a method to that madness.”

Dr. Elizabeth Georgian, an associate professor of history, will speak on “Alcohol, History and the Law,” from 5 to 6 p.m. Thursday in Penland Room 106. Her discussion will highlight the history and evolution of the legal status of alcohol possession and consumption, including contemporary rights and responsibilities.

“One of the themes I started last year as part of Constitution Week is issues of due process,” Georgian said. “That's where I target the students, looking at their due process rights, the history and their responsibilities.”

All events are free and open to the public.

“We're trying to schedule a more diverse set of offerings and reach out not only to our students, who are very important, but also to the broader Aiken community,” Georgian said.

Thornburg said Americans sometimes take the U.S. Constitution for granted.

“But if you think about it, it's the contract that all Americans really agree to in terms of living in this country. It has its origin as this compact we forged as Americans, outlining how we were going to live together; how we were going to work together,” he said. “I like to put it to my students as you wouldn't sign or agree to a contract without reading it, so for me, it's very important to talk about questions about your rights, your responsibilities. It's important for each new generation to understand the Constitution and agree to it and how it persists and continues to govern us.”

Young said the Constitution is a “living document.”

“It also has to connect deeply to the community and the students in today's world,” she said. “It's a timeless document, but it's a living document.”

Larry Wood covers education for the Aiken Standard.

A native of Aiken, Larry Wood covers education for the Aiken Standard.