We would like to begin by praising the University’s decision to finally acknowledge and observe Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day this past Monday. It is very important to recognize the work of Dr. King, especially given our history of the advancement of social justice in Rochester as promulgated by people the likes of Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass. Their work has not gone unnoticed by this University and for that we applaud this and previous administrations. However, by observing this holiday and not others, the University is ignoring the important contributions made to America by George Washington and all former presidents, Christopher Columbus, and the 25 million living veterans of our Armed Forces. In recent years, the University has scheduled Fall Break approximately the first Monday of October, typically one week before the national observance of Columbus Day. We suggest that the University consider rescheduling Fall Break to coincide with Columbus Day, and furthermore consider programming to educate the university community on both the facts and myths surrounding the voyages and landings of Columbus in the New World. The third Monday in February, President’s Day, honors not only George Washington and Abraham Lincoln – another champion of social justice – but also all the other men that have served as president. Veterans Day, which always falls on November 11th, is intended to honor all those living veterans who served and sacrificed in response to the call of duty to country. While one can argue the merits of Christopher Columbus and his voyages, it would be difficult for one to dispute the contributions made by past presidents and the men and women who have served in our Armed Forces. Why has the University chosen to sidestep the observance of these other national holidays? There is no question that Dr. King’s Birthday should be recognized, but by excluding these other days, the University has destroyed a large part of the meaning behind the day, equality. By equally observing these days, we acknowledge the contributions of all of these groups of Americans. We encourage the University to continue to honor Dr. King’s legacy and dream by recognizing these other national holidays.
Robert Kamen, ’03Brendan Vaughn, ’02George Flevares, ’99David Gottfried, ’99