STRENGTH IN NUMBERS
With the cancellation of classes on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, students should take advantage of the free time to participate in commemoration events around campus
As we’re sure most students have noticed by now, today marks the first time since Grand Valley State University was established that the university has made the decision to cancel all regularly scheduled classes in observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
This week, GVSU will host a number of events in the spirit of Dr. King. From keynote speaker Judge Glenda Hatchett to a silent march across campus intended to encourage quiet reflection, these events are a worthwhile investment of time. With the cancellation of classes, it’s a tempting time for us students, staring in the face of a newfound freedom, to call the whole thing off and use the day to catch up on our beauty sleep.
But before you make the decision to ditch, hear us out.
The entire process of getting Martin Luther King Jr. Day off was not one made in haste, but rather one that was fought for; rallied around. It started back in 2009, when Vice President of Inclusion & Equity Jeanne Arnold formed a Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Executive Subcommittee to examine the way the university observed the holiday. It included a subcommittee that explored whether or not GVSU should close in observance. That subcommittee recommended the measure to University Academic Senate and Student Senate, who recommended the measure to Provost Gayle Davis, who finally gave the official university seal of approval. Up until Davis signed off on the cancellations this past June, GVSU was one of only three public institutions in the state of Michigan that did not close down class in honor of the iconic civil rights leader. In a story we ran following the announcement of the cancellation, Bobby Springer, associate director of the Office of Multicultural Affairs told the Lanthorn that though the majority was in favor of closing classes, it “didn’t happen overnight” and emphasized the role of students in making the measure stick.
Here at the Lanthorn, we know we are not your mother, your girlfriend or boyfriend, or your professor (though sometimes we might act like it) but we’ve just got to make a recommendation of our own: classes being cancelled should not translate into a get-out-of-class-free card. It shouldn’t mean your Sunday night socializing should bleed into Monday morning just because you don’t have to worry about making it to class on time. Find out how you can get involved, show up to the poverty simulation or the silent march or spend a Saturday volunteering as part of the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service.
The university is going to revisit the motion in five years, to decide whether or not the cancellation in classes is effective. So, in a way, it’s the decision of whether or not this continues for future generations of Lakers is largely on the shoulders of the students to decide. So take a step in the right direction, GVSU, and take a day to remember the man who changed the way we look at our neighbors, and taught us that there is strength in numbers; that peace is always more poignant than violence, and that love will always conquer hate.