Students will continue attending classes on holiday

Students looking ahead at their calendars next year can expect the same answer to whether or not Missouri Southern will close for the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. holiday: No.

“What is the purpose of the day?” said Dr. Al Cade, assistant to the dean of the school of education. “I don’t think it’s a day to sleep.”

Cade, like many administrators, thinks students would not use the day to celebrate and reflect on King’s legacy with social justice.

“People all the time tell me…’I can’t believe we don’t have the day off,”‘ Cade said.

But then he asks the person, “Well, what would you do then?”

Cade, who is African-American, believes it’s best for Southern to remain open for the holiday. He does, however, think there’s a better way to observe the day.

“People that truly know me as a person, they understand where I’m coming from,” he said. “If we had it Dr. King’s way, we would spend the day with a variety of sessions on social justice, equality and diversity.”

For seven years, Cade has helped coordinate the annual Martin Luther King Jr. breakfast, an event with a variety of discussion that helps honor King. Last year, along with the breakfast, Cade orchestrated a roundtable discussion open to students, Southern employees and the community.

He had a variety of diverse speakers ready to speak on equality, King and the future of social justice.

Only problem, however, was the number in attendance. Ten people showed.

“It’s difficult to have a roundtable when there’s more people at the table than the audience,” he said. “We were shocked and sad.”

College President Julio León said Southern’s reasoning behind the matter of closing the campus has nothing to do with preserving Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

“We appreciate what he means and what he did,” León said. “But altogether we are here for one purpose: go to school and learn.”

León said it’s important for Southern to follow its mission and boast its academic calendar, a calendar in which León said is one of the strongest in the state.

“We wanted to extend the number of hours our students are in school,” he said.

While León said the College is committed to its usual academic calendar for several years, he didn’t rule out the possibility that Southern could close for the holiday.

And that’s what some students want.

“We take days off for other federal holidays,” said Amber Brown, junior psychology major. “I think we should have the day off.”

Brown, an African-American student, is pleased, however, that Southern is holding events honoring King.

“I’m glad they are recognizing more activities,” she said.

And more activities on the holiday is exactly what Cade wants. But first and foremost, there has to be more interest from the campus community.

While working at Northwest Missouri and the University of Minnesota, Cade remembers how the schools would hold sessions on diversity and King.

“You couldn’t find a seat,” he said.

Cade has been asked whether or not the evening roundtable will ever return to Southern.

“Well, no, if no one is going to come,” he said.