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Canisius College is rewriting the Constitution -- not the U.S. Constitution, but the New York State Constitution.

The public is invited to join in as the college's newly formed Student Constitutional Reform Commission presents free forums on the Constitution, featuring experts on New York government.

Audience participation will be welcome after each presentation.

The first, at 6:30 p.m. today, will be by Jeffrey Stonecash, a political science professor at Syracuse University's Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, and professor-in-residence at the New York State Assembly.

He will discuss "The State Legislature and the New York State Constitution" in Room 203 of the Churchill Academic Tower on Canisius' Main Street campus.

Other free forums in the commission series will include:

7 p.m. Feb. 10 in the Regis Room of the Winter Student Center on campus:

"Political Parties, the Electoral Process and the New York State Constitution" will be discussed by Gerald Benjamin, dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at New Paltz State College, and, from 1992 to 1995, research director of the state's Temporary State Commission on Constitutional Revisions.

7 p.m. Feb. 17 in the Regis Room of the Winter Student Center:

"Lobbying, the State Legislature and the New York Constitution" will be the focus of longtime Buffalo attorney and Albany lobbyist J.B. Walsh.

7 p.m. Feb. 24 in the Grupp Fireside Lounge of the Winter Student Center:

"The New York Legislature and the State Constitution II" will be discussed by Eric Lane, a professor of law at Hofstra University School of Law on Long Island and counsel to the State Senate minority leader from 1981 to 1986.

7 p.m. March 6 in the Regis Room of the Winter Student Center:

"The Constitutional Role of the Attorney General" will be the topic of Dennis C. Vacco, former state attorney general.

Peter J. Galie, a political science professor at Canisius, and members of the student commission hope to present their completed revision of the State Constitution to the State Legislature in 2002.

The project is being funded by a John R. Oishei Professorship Grant awarded to Galie. The John R. Oishei Foundation gave $1.5 million to Canisius in 1998 to fund an Oishei Professors Program to recognize creative teaching of undergraduates at the college.

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