Peace march and other events honor MLK’s legacy
Ben Mehic, Managing News Editor
Donning a bright smile and a blue Utica College pullover, senior Elliot Coleman walked towards the Strebel Student Center holding a sign that read “Remember the man who changed the direction of American history.” Dozens of his peers, most carrying signs of their own, professors and other familiar faces on campus followed him.
On Jan. 16, the UC Student Senate and Diversity Committee led a peace march throughout the campus to promote inclusiveness.
Coleman, like many of his fellow students, wasn’t pleased with having to attend class on Martin Luther King Jr. Day – a federal holiday that was enacted by President Ronald Reagan nearly 50 years ago.
“It’s important to march on this day because the campus felt the need to start classes on this very important national holiday,” Coleman said. “This day is very important to us and we felt the need for a peaceful protest, just like MLK would do.”
Coleman, who noted that the walk was a peaceful march and not a an angry protest, believes the institution is on the right track in terms of creating awareness, even though classes were still held on MLK Day.
“The campus is doing a lot,” Coleman said. “We have a whole two weeks of programs dedicated to MLK’s message. I think they’re doing a fantastic job.”
As Coleman walked in front of the group, junior Demetrius Pettway congregated with classmates in the back. Pettway, who’s a part of the Black Student Union, believes the school can do more outside of allowing peaceful marches, citing a need for hands-on events that expose other students to different cultures.
Pettway, like Coleman, believes that the classes should have been postponed for the holiday.
“If we go to class, then we should go to class on Columbus Day,” Pettway said. “I feel like a lot of students think it’s not equal.
The decision to hold classes on the holiday was made by former President Todd Hutton, according to Provost John Johnsen. It was made based on a recommendation by the Faculty Senate, which started from discussions regarding the school calendar.
“It’s an important thing to commemorate,” said Administrative Assistant for Student Affairs Louise Phelps said. “I love this. I’m so glad we have such a big crowd. Students were really interested in it.”
Students strolled by every main building on campus, but did their best not to disrupt classes that were going on. Each student made a pin and placed it on a large banner that was displayed in front of the line.
Ler Soe, a junior from Proctor High School, showed support on a voluntary trip with Young Scholars. Soe, who’s originally from Thailand, said he understands the importance of civil rights leaders because they impacted the way of thinking for the future.
“I think it’s important to be out here,” Soe said. “When I think about Dr. King and his marches, I know they marched to have the right to be equal. Every man is created equal. That’s important to me. If it wasn’t for him, we wouldn’t have made the progress we’ve made.”