What will you be doing on Jan. 19, 2004? What are your plans for the evening of Jan. 23? You need not consult your PDA or look to your weekly planner because the 19th is the Monday when all classes are cancelled and the 23rd is a Friday. I ask these questions because I am a member of the College Diversity Roundtable and we are charged with coordinating events to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day and the annual MLK Commemorative Address.

I have been an active member of the CDR for nearly four years, and over the years, I have seen much related to issues of diversity and creating an inclusive college community. For example, the hate graffiti, widespread defacing of certain student groups’ posters and outright acts of intolerance seem to be on the decline. That’s the good news.

Although we are pleased with this progress, much work remains to be done. We all need to actively pursue forward looking University policies and programs, and work to develop resources that will secure and enhance our expectation that this is a safe place to learn, grow, and enjoy all that Rochester has to offer. The numbers of incidents are down, but they have yet to become nonexistent. The term “ghetto-weg(mans)” is still used although the store has closed and many of the students using it have never been to the ghetto. Members of fraternities and sororities are unfairly stereotyped as are students of color, homosexuals, and the missions and goals of student groups, etc. The men’s restrooms continue to be decorated in “stall-art” that ridicules homosexuality and demeans women.

These are just some of the reasons I ask – “What you are doing the week of Jan. 19th – 23, 2004?” Monday, Jan. 19, is the national Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday, and the second year that the College has cancelled classes in honor of his legacy. This allows individuals the opportunity to exercise their freedom to celebrate MLK and the principles for which he stood. These freedoms are always present but on this day they can be exercised without the added pressure of deciding whether to engage in the events or attend class. I want to invite you – my fellow students, staff and faculty – to join us on Monday, Jan. 19, at 4:45 p.m. for a “Peace March,” which will assemble at the stairs of Rush Rhees Library and march to the Interfaith Chapel. At 5 p.m. the College community will join together – different voices of faith and UR musical groups will celebrate and reflect on the life and legacy of Dr. King. The service will be followed by “Dinner and Dialogue,” and free tickets will be available at the Common Market for this event. Everyone is welcome.

These freedoms have also extended to the Medical Center – Professor Samuel Roberts from Columbia University is slated to speak on “Urban Anxiety: Tuberculosis Surveillance and African Americans in the Twentieth Century” at 1 p.m. in the Arthur Kornberg Medical Research Building. The CDR is coordinating other events with Student Activities, Residential Life, and other academic departments to whet our intellectual appetites. Most events will take place on the 19th, but others will run throughout the week culminating in the fourth annual MLK Commemorative address on Friday the 23rd.

Sponsored by the President’s Office, the MLK Commemorative address has taken its place in the UR’s’ list of traditions along side Meliora Weekend and D-day. It continues to follow the model of bringing a nationally known figure with an academic background and who plays an active role in issues regarding civil rights and Dr. King’s dream.

While final plans are in place for booking a speaker to present the MLK commemorative address, the 2005 speaker is already confirmed. The address will take place at 6 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 23 in Strong Auditorium and will focus on “America’s new civil rights agenda.” Many of us students haven’t yet planned for Monday, Jan. 19, and are still thinking of what we will be doing on Friday, Jan. 23. I wanted to inform my fellow students of all the events that will celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. King. With this said, students can plan for these events and when asked if they are attending I won’t have to hear an excuse like: “I didn’t know early enough,” “Fliers, what fliers” or “I thought the tickets were sold out.” All the events will be free and open for all UR students to attend. The fact that you are reading this article means you are now notified of the events early enough to plan to attend, so I hope to see you there.

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