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Holding classes a disrespect to students, MLK Jr.

“We must remember that intelligence is not enough. Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education.”

Martin Luther King Jr. wrote those words for the student newspaper at Morehouse College in 1947.

“DON’T LET SCHOOL GET IN THE WAY OF YOUR EDUCATION” are the words my 11th grade AP Government teacher, Steven Cwodzinski, would scream at us every day of the semester.

Dr. King and Mr. Cwodzinski value something that Concordia’s Faculty Senate clearly does not. They value something greater than classes. They value and understand what it takes to mold “thoughtful and informed men and women.”

Concordia College hosted 15 different events on MLK Day this year. Concordia College also held classes on MLK Day this year. This year, Concordia College certainly let school get in the way of our education.

A federal holiday honoring Dr. King was first proposed four days after he was assassinated in 1968, but it took almost two decades for it to be approved and designated at the national level. After the years of struggle to finally honor the man who was essential to the success of the Civil Rights Movement, how can we not spare a single day to commemorate him and everyone else who has fought for equal rights? How can we purport to be a “liberal arts institution” when we cannot fathom the idea of building our character at the cost of one day of traditional schooling?

On October 5, 2012, the Concordia College Board of Regents published a strategic plan for 2012-2017 titled “Whole Self, Whole Life, Whole World: The plan for Concordia College.” This document states in its declaration of intent, “Concordia College will offer an education of the whole self, for the whole of life, for the sake of the whole world.”

In what sense are we offering an education for the sake of the world if we are robbing our students of the opportunity to attend numerous eye-opening events focused on social justice on our own campus?

We are in a time of extreme turmoil among minorities with the inauguration of Donald Trump. We face the harsh realities of our country’s bigotry daily when we read about hate crimes and see injustice every time we turn on the news, and yet we are failing to do everything in our power to ensure that our students are able to become wholly educated.

Our environment is not conducive to appreciating diversity. Let’s face it – Cobbers are very white. The least we can do is discuss race and try to understand the state that our country is in, and on Monday, we failed to make that conversation accessible to everyone. Yes, traditional classroom settings can be great for provoking thoughtful discussion. But how many of your math classes dedicated Monday to talking about civil rights?

Our past failures to cancel classes and properly honor Dr. King do not have to continue. Student Body President Rachael Schauer intends to bring the issue to the Faculty Senate this semester, and could use some passionate students’ help. We must give all students the opportunity to gain intelligence and character. And with that, I leave your corn buttered.

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