IWU attracts controversy with MLK Day teach-in

Olivia Jacobs

 According to JSTOR Daily, observing Martin Luther King Day is not about closing universities, it’s about engaging in meaningful conversation. 

For the first time in eight years Illinois Wesleyan held an institute day on the holiday. 

Students were able to have the day off while faculty and staff engaged in a multitude of seminars to emphasize the importance of his legacy. 

Although this is still a positive, students were discouraged from participating in the day, which caused some controversy. 

At first students were looking forward to attending in hopes of achieving some extra credit in their classes and gaining valuable knowledge, but then received an email notifying them that the seminar portion of the teach-in would only be open to faculty and staff. 

“I think that it was a missed opportunity. I feel that if students had been allowed to attend the teach in then more conversation would’ve been generated about the issues of race and class that still persist in the United States and still persist in Bloomington-Normal” sophomore William Brown said. 

According to Cynthia R. Greenlee, 10 of the nations 25 elite institutions of higher education conducted “business as usual” during the celebration. 

If IWU doesn’t want to fall back into the habit of not giving proper recognition to MLK day then they should at least give students the option to attend instead of completely shutting them out. 

Offering students something like an organized day of service or community engagement would help to break down any barriers students may have to spend time off campus. 

For example, Professor Halperin hosted a number of other faculty members at the West Bloomington Revitalization Project (WBRP) granting opportunities apart from the teach in.

“For an institution that prides themselves on diversity and inclusion, failing to include students at the seminars nor offering them an opportunity for a day of community service was mistep by the administration,” junior Tori Olomon said. 

If the university was so adamant about highlighting diversity and using the holiday wisely then the days events should’ve been opened to the entire campus. 

Sure, having faculty and staff involved is important, but the more we start excluding students from engaging in the IWU community the less they will care.