ASWWU logo
Walla Walla, WA
Wednesday, October 4, 2023

How Should Walla Walla University Honor Martin Luther King Jr.?

February 9, 2022
Garrett Christensen

Here Are the Facts

Garrett Christensen

Martin Luther King Day is a special time here at Walla Walla University. However, the way we honor MLK’s legacy is up for debate. Some believe that students and faculty should have the day off from classes, while others believe that having school protects the integrity of the celebration. 

The history of MLK Day at WWU goes back to the late 1980s, when we first celebrated the holiday with a special CommUnity; it was the only event happening within 200 miles. 

According to Dr. Pedrito Maynard-Reid, assistant to the president for diversity, “All three [television] networks in Tri-Cities – ABC, CBS, and NBC – sent over their camera crew … and it was at the top of the news.” 

Dr. Maynard-Reid feels that, by celebrating the holiday while continuing to have school, we can better honor MLK’s legacy.  

“[W]e have felt that it’s better to have the day where we can really celebrate it and highlight it [rather] than give off the day, where most people aren’t even going to think about it.” [1] 

However, some students feel that WWU is not doing enough. An Instagram survey done by The Collegian this week found that 90% of responders thought that WWU should not have classes on MLK Day. [2] 

Michael Trethewey, a graduate social work student, feels the same way. On January 16, he presented his thoughts to the ASWWU Senate after a discussion he had with several of his classmates. 

“We really appreciate WWU putting on a special CommUnity for MLK day, but holding classes is what we take issue with,” said Trethewey.  “Every other school in Washington state seems to take the day off and we believe holding classes on this day isn't the right move.” 

He proposed that instead of having classes on MLK Day, WWU have a service day. Perhaps, even collaborating with Whitman and Walla Walla Community College. “The sky’s the limit,” said Trethewey. [3] 

Senator Ares Alcantara, a senior graphic design major, said that after Trethewey’s presentation, the senate did come to a full agreement. Members raised a few concerns about the service day proposal, such as that “there may be many [students] that would not partake.” However, the meeting ended with senators being encouraged to reach out to their constituencies and listen to their thoughts. [4] 

Dr. Maynard-Reid is also working towards potentially having service days around MLK Day. He believes that when we celebrate MLK Day, we should “carry on the work against injustice, against marginalization, against exploitation, and … against anything that demeans people.” [5] 

The proposed service week would coincide with MLK Day but would not excuse students from classes. [6] 

It should be noted nine out of the twelve Adventist universities in the U.S. take classes off during MLK Day. [7-15] 

However, this does not mean it is the right choice for WWU. The University can only take one holiday off per quarter. If we take MLK Day off, it will conflict with the joint president’s day/snow frolic event. [16]  

This is a complex issue, and each school has unique needs and unique ways of honoring the legacy of MLK. As a school, we need to move forward and decide how we can best honor MLK’s legacy in the future. 



  1. Interview with Dr. Pedrito Maynard-Reid, 1/30/23. 
  2. The Collegian [@aswwucollegian]. (January 31, 2023). [Story Poll]. Instagram.  
  3. Email interview with Michael Trethewey, 2/1/23. 
  4. SMS interview with Ares Alcantara, 1/29/23. 
  5. Interview with Dr. Pedrito Maynard-Reid, 1/30/23. 
  6. Ibid. 
  7. Southern Adventist University plans 29th year of MLK service day tradition. (January 6, 2023). Adventist Today.  
  8. 2022-2023 Academic calendar. (July 25, 2022). La Sierra University. 
  9. Events. (n.d.). Southwestern Adventist University. 
  10. Holiday: Martin Luther King Jr. Day. (n.d.). Andrews University. 
  11. Academic calendar. (n.d.). Pacific Union College. 
  12. Martin Luther King Jr. Day (No classes). (n.d.). Union College.  
  13. The academic calendar. (n.d.). Loma Linda University. 
  14. Kettering College marches for MLK. (n.d.). Kettering College. 
  15. Academic calendar 2022-2023. (n.d.). Washington Adventist University. 
  16. Interview with Dr. Pedrito Maynard-Reid, 1/30/23. 



  1. The University Singers are an integral part of Martin Luther King Day celebrations at WWU 
menuchevron-upchevron-downmenu-circlecross-circle linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram