Students Upset After University Holds Classes
On King Holiday
FORT SMITH, Ark.
The University of Arkansas at Fort Smith held classes last month on the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, rankling some students because the campus did not recognize the holiday by closing.
The school, formerly known as Westark College, recently joined the University of Arkansas system. Other universities in the state took the day off.
Shanika Royal says members of the Black Student Association had decided to make a formal complaint, and that the group started a petition.
“It was approved by Faculty Senate that we be out for this day,” Royal says. “It went to the faculty association, and it was approved that we be out this day. It went to the president and he said ‘no.’ “
University President Joel Stubblefield says if the students want the holiday, they’ll have to give up another day. He says state law allows only 11 holidays, and the Board of Trustees established the days to be observed more than 20 years ago, before the King holiday was created.
“It’s within our power to give up, say, the New Year’s Eve holiday or give up Good Friday holiday, and add a holiday for Martin Luther King Day, we could do that,” Stubblefield says.
Stubblefield says students could honor the slain civil rights leader by attending school, and increasing their knowledge.
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