In an action that has been a long time coming, UR’s River Campus canceled all classes last Monday in obser- vance of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Last year, classes were optional and in previous years, the university did not officially observe the holiday.
The administration should be applauded for moving in the right direction to create a day that is truly a celebration of diversity. Events were planned, including an interdenominational service at the Interfaith Chapel, a luncheon that included discussion of King’s dream and talks at UR Medical Center and on the River Campus. Programming continues later in the week with the annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemorative Address by Morris Dees on Friday.
If the university continues to plan such events, as it should, it must do a better job of advertising them. The fact that MLK Day falls immediately after break could be a factor, but posters for all the events must be more visible and must go up earlier. In addition, MLK Day observance ought to be part of the academic calendar as early as possible.
Another related problem was that many professors were unaware of the fact that classes were to be canceled. This created unnecessary confusion when they made up syllabi that included Monday as a class session. If UR plans to cancel classes on MLK Day, the campus community must be made aware of this decision early on.UR made the decision to cancel classes in order to create a day of education and awareness. Students are an integral part of making this goal a reality. Many of Monday’s events, however, were poorly attended by undergraduates. While weather could have been a factor, it shouldn’t be an excuse.
The university should expand MLK Day events in the future to include more programs that would interest a wide range of students and we should all think twice about the importance of Martin Luther King, Jr. and his dream.
UR has made great strides toward realizing MLK Day as the celebration of diversity that it deserves to be. We support the cancellation of classes and encourage continuing this trend.