A frustration this week was found closer to home, as the campus prepares to observe Martin Luther King Jr. Day next Monday, January 16. Though many departments and centers at IU produce thoughtful, critical events that forward the discussion on race in the United States, it seems that some campus groups have quickly disregarded the campus-wide emphasis that the day be utilized as a day on, not simply a day off from schoolwork.
IU Outdoors Adventures thematic community has planned a ski trip to Wisconsin, with travel time back to IU scheduled for Monday. Other thematic communities in residence halls have taken to the same strategy, planning trips away from campus during the “extended weekend.” I asked some graduate supervisors, who shared my disdain over the issue, if any programming on the subject of MLK was planned during the excursions, They were aware of no such programming.
IU observed its first Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day by dismissing classes in 1998, after a student coalition demanded the national holiday be more than business as usual for the university and its students, hoping that the day could be used a time for service, education, and action. Little more than a decade later, it seems that the only action many students will engage in this MLK Day will occur on the slopes. And no one really seems to be up in arms about it.
Though one would hope that a ban would be unnecessary, it seems high time to advocate for an all-out axillary programming ban on events not associated with King Day in future academic years.