MLK day sparks conversation 30 years later

On Monday, Senior Tayvian Johnson was given permission to purposely miss a class in honor of the national holiday, Martin Luther King Day.
Students and faculty members have expressed dissatisfaction over the fact that Augustana does not commemorate the holiday with a day off. Johnson could not be reached for a comment.
Dean Lawrence quickly responded to the claim that students were missing classes because of the holiday by saying that although the administration sympathized with students, these absences were unexcused.
“After talking with Dean Campbell, it was made very clear that we have not taken Martin Luther King day off since she has been at Augustana,” said David Sommers, president of the Student Government Association. “In order to take MLK day off, we would need to have that availability in our academic calendar. We just don’t have extra days available.”
Sommers added, “ I think it is important that students discuss why this day is important in class with their peers. We think that MLK day is a day for not only personal reflection, but also academic reflection.”
Recently, Eric Rowell, the Assistant of Admissions and Diversity Outreach, put together a MLK Celebration that brought 500 members of the community. Students from BSU volunteered with the event that was held the Saturday before the holiday. Although it was a well-attended event, Rowell hopes that more Augustana students attend in the future.
“Regarding interest, it would be great to have more students in attendance. I invited the entire campus, but there were few students in the audience,” said Rowell.
Sophomore Deja Hartsfield and member of Augustana’s Black Student Union group had a similar feeling about how to celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr.
“I don’t fully agree with this. I respect it, and I’m just looking at it from a different perspective. MLK’s whole dream was that people of different races could get an education together, so why walk out of class?”
Additionally, Hartsfield wants the Augustana community to understand that BSU does not need to be behind every racially motivated protest that occurs on campus.
“I hope people don’t automatically associate these peaceful protest with BSU, which is something that happens at Augustana every time some kind of racial equality movement takes place and it’s not always our ideas,” Hartsfield said.