Constitution Day Essay/Video Contest Winners Revealed

Composite image shows Constitution Day Winner posters, a smiling man in a tan suit standing in front of a fountain and a serious woman in the woods with the words: "you can not do all the good that the world needs but the world needs all the good that you can do"

ALBANY, N.Y. (Nov. 16, 2021) — Four students were named winners of UAlbany’s annual Constitution Day Essay/Video Contest in a virtual celebration Monday hosted by Martha Asselin, director of the Center of Leadership and Service.

Essay competitors were asked: Should term limits be enacted for elected officials in the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate? Applicants had up to 500 words to present and defend their views.

First prize went to Christian Vitek, who wrote that term limits are needed because of the politicians who “cannot set aside ego and hubris,” serving decade after decade rather than inviting “a passing of political batons to the next generation.”

Using the example of Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, who was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1980 and is now in his seventh term, Vitek wrote, “There should be mutual understanding that aging politicians should step down in the interest of the next generations rather than their own political ambitions. Since a mutual understanding of stepping aside for the next class of leaders to step up is absent, there must be a structural caveat to ensure this process happens.”

Vitek, who received a $250 Visa gift card for his winning essay, is a senior political science major from Walton.

Second place and a $100 gift card went to Margaret Hintz, a sophomore Honors College student from Brockport majoring in chemistry with an English minor. Isabella Blauvelt-Mercado, also a sophomore Honors College student, took third place and a $50 gift card. Blauvelt-Mercado is a political science major from Washingtonville.

For the video contest, entrants were asked whether the U.S. should consider an environmental rights amendment to the constitution. Emily Ordonez won with her video calling environmental rights a matter of social justice. Ordonez, a junior from Troy, is a business economics major, and won a $250 gift card.

U.S. Constitution Day is a federal observance recognizing the adoption of the U.S. Constitution on Sept. 17, 1787. Constitution Day at UAlbany sponsored by Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy, the School of Criminal Justice, the Center of Leadership and Service, the Office for Government and Community Relations, Student Affairs, Women and Public Policy, the Alumni Association, UAlbany Votes and SUNY.

Asselin thanked Walter M. Francis, MA ’79, a donor who has supported Constitution Day events at UAlbany for the past four years and who funded the prizes.