On Monday, Jan. 16, schools, businesses and communities across the country took the day off to celebrate and honor the work of civil rights leader, Martin Luther King Jr. Events here on the University of Redlands campus hummed with activity as students followed their daily academic schedule. But some pondered the question, ‘Why does the University of Redlands not observe Martin Luther King Jr. day by taking the day off from school and work?’ To gain insight into the administration’s perspective on the holiday, Associate Dean for Campus Diversity and Inclusion (CDI), Leela Madhava Rua and Chaplain John Walsh share their perspectives.
First, Professor Madhava Rua cited that the university, as a general trend, does not follow all federal holidays.
Secondly, it is likely that students without class obligations on this holiday would not utilize the time the way the King family envisioned, said Professor Madhava Rua. Students would sleep in, which is antithetical to the purpose of the day: service.
She delivered another point: students were a minority group at this last Sunday’s event hosted in the University chapel to pay homage to King. If they do not demonstrate support of the day through participating in formal events such as this, the probability of student involvement on a class-free monday is questionable. Madhava Rua estimated the total student attendance at Sunday’s event to be 100 students, whereas the majority of attendees were from the greater Redlands community.
Ideally, even with class obligations, students and faculty should use a portion of class time to discuss the history and importance of King’s work and that of the civil rights movement to our modern society.
Walsh acknowledged the tireless effort of Dr. King, and noted that attending school on the holiday is reflective of that effort.
“We celebrate MLK all week long, beginning on Sunday evening,” Walsh said. “By continuing the process of education we honor Dr. King and at the same time learn more about that movement for justice. We sing, we quote civil leaders, we participate in service, and many other things, while remembering our mission of education. When you’re doing the work of justice, you never take a day off.”
[image used is not the property of the University of Redlands nor the Redlands Bulldog]