Middlebury students will have Martin Luther King Jr. Day off for the first time in college history this Monday, Jan. 21. The holiday, traditionally observed by most schools and many places of work, has been a class day for Middlebury students since President Ronald Reagan signed the holiday into law in 1983.
The change to the calendar was made to allow more students to participate in celebrations surrounding the holiday. In years past, the Center for Community Engagement (CCE) has held events the weekend prior to the day itself. This year, the CCE will host an MLK Afternoon of Action on Monday.
According to CCE Program Director Ashley Laux, the CCE is soliciting volunteers to help with the event. In the Ilsley Library Meeting Room, volunteers will read books to and participate in arts and crafts activities with young children from the town. At the Addison Central Teen Center, volunteers will help with a collage art project and talk to local teenagers about mobilizing for change in one’s own community. Volunteers will start at 1 p.m. while youth in the community can come to the event between 2:30 and 4 p.m. Laux and the CCE team will be coordinating with AmeriCorps VISTA member Sarah Litwiller to organize the event, and encourage interested students to sign up at go.middlebury.edu/mlkafternoonofaction.
Although students will have classes off this year, Laux expects that event turnout will be comparable to last year’s.
Ricardo Lint Sagarena, director of intercultural programs, is also organizing a brunch at 10 a.m. on the 21st in the Redfield Proctor Room in Proctor Dining Hall.
“Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s words and selfless actions continue to be an inspiration and never-ending call to action for tolerance and peace,” Sagarena said. “In that spirit, students, faculty, and staff are invited to come together to share a meal and talk about their commitments and convictions.” He advised interested students to register for seats at go.middlebury.edu/mlkbrunch.
Sagarena is unsure about how the day off will impact participation, as it is yet to be seen whether students will take the day off to attend these events.
Porter Bowman ’21.5 is the Senior Opinions Editor.
He previously served as the Correspondent to the Student Government Association (SGA) and a Staff Writer for the News and Local sections.
Bowman is pursuing an International Politics and Economics major and a History minor.
During the summer of 2020, Bowman started a podcast called “Why Not U.S.?” where he interviewed young people in their 20s serving in political office across the country.
He also worked as a producer and researcher for “Trickeration,” an investigative sports podcast from iHeartMedia hosted by Campus alum Matt Waxman ’01.5.
When not watching the West Wing or finishing crossword puzzles, Bowman plays on the Middlebury varsity golf team alongside basketball, club tennis, and intramural volleyball.
He lost on Teen Jeopardy! in November 2016.