Posted by Mary Wimberley on 2005-05-11

After 12 hours of reading on Monday (MAY 9), Samford University volunteers got barely a third through the 1901 Alabama constitution, which many say is too long and too old.

Readers got to page 217 of a bound copy of the constitution, published by Samford in 2000, which has 589 pages.

"We read up to the 198th amendment," said student Alisha Damron, who organized the event. As of 2005, the constitution has more than 740 amendments.

From 6 a.m. until 6 p.m., a roster of Samford students, faculty and staff took turns reading aloud from the 310,300-word document while seated comfortably in an easy chair in front of Samford's Davis Library.

The event drew attention and conversation, which is what the organizers wanted. Signatures of 181 Alabama residents were added to a petition in support of constitutional reform. The names will be added to the statewide Alabama Citizens for Constitutional Reform petition count.

"Students were definitely responsive to the demonstration," said Damron, a senior from Springdale, Ark., and a member of the Samford ACCR chapter. "Whether they signed the petition, stood to listen, or were stirred with conversation, it was an issue that seemed to be getting their attention."

To visually dramatize the constitution's size, students strung pages of the document on a line along the school's Centennial Walk.

The 20 readers included 11 students, seven professors, a retired staff member, and one president. Samford president Dr. Thomas E. Corts, a leader in state constitutional reform efforts, pulled his shift mid-morning.


Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. The Wall Street Journal ranks Samford 1st nationally for student engagement and U.S. News & World Report ranks Samford 37th in the nation for best undergraduate teaching and 97th nationally for best value. Samford enrolls 5,758 students from 48 states and 22 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference, and ranks 3rd nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.