Giving Short Shrift to MLK Day?

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In the 1970s and early 1980s, supporters rallied to create a federal holiday memorializing Martin Luther King Jr.’s leadership in the civil rights movement and his union activism. For many students today, those efforts have translated to King-themed activities and a respite from coursework one day a year.

As usual, Ohio State University has no intention of holding classes on Martin Luther King Jr. Day next year, when it will fall on Monday, January 21. But unique scheduling difficulties recently forced administrators to diverge from the typical calendar guidelines, which would have placed the winter quarter’s commencement ceremony on Easter Sunday and the summer quarter’s on Labor Day weekend. The resulting adjustment would have left students with more Fridays than Mondays, so a plan finalized partially with input from a group of faculty decided on a solution: holding classes that might have been held on the King holiday on the first Friday of the winter quarter instead.

The announcement to students and faculty this month has sparked a protest among a group of at least nine professors who feel that King’s day was singled out and that the decision to “make up” that day’s classes didn’t take into account their perspectives. “Is the holiday honoring Dr. King of any less importance than the Christian holiday of Easter or Labor Day?” they wrote in a letter to Brad A. Myers, the university registrar, this month. The question seemed to imply that making up classes from either of those holidays is never considered. (Labor Day is also on a Monday, but it falls in the summer, not winter, quarter.)

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