Labor Day was celebrated across the country this past Monday, giving many businesses, schools and government offices a day off to relax and celebrate the labor contributions of Americans in countless fields of work.
The holiday has been recognized since 1887, when Oregon declared it a public holiday before the U.S. established it as a federal holiday in 1894. Labor Day is often associated with parades, barbecues and spending time with family and friends in the waning days of summer.
That has not been the case for Bradley, however, as the university continued to hold classes on Labor Day, a practice that has been in place for some time. Meanwhile, those in university offices, such as financial services and the athletic department, were given a three-day weekend.
It’s reasonable to think that Bradley does not give students and faculty the federal holiday off because it is a private institution. However, many other private universities in the Midwest that fit Bradley’s demographic recognize Labor Day, and it is unfair to those at Bradley who have to be in classrooms on the first Monday in September.
Among the dozens of other private universities similar to Bradley that do not hold classes on Labor Day are Butler University, Creighton University, Xavier University, Millikin University and Loyola University Chicago. All of the listed institutions are located in the Midwest and are alike in undergraduate population to Bradley.
Bradley’s practice of holding classes on Labor Day runs deeper than giving the students an extra day off. One day may seem insignificant, but Bradley’s status quo sends a message that the university has chosen to give more work to students and faculty rather than recognize what they are actually doing on Labor Day.
Adding to the issue is that those who in all likelihood chose to uphold Bradley’s tradition of keeping classes in session on Labor Day had the day off themselves. It makes little sense to tell students and faculty that their activities will continue as scheduled on Labor Day while preventing them from engaging with a number of services from the same university at the same time.
Bradley recognizes other federal holidays such as Thanksgiving, Christmas and Indigenous People’s Day (formerly Columbus Day), the latter of which typically falls during Bradley’s fall recess. Six of the 10 federal holidays in the U.S. fall during or in the middle of Bradley’s typical academic year but of those, Labor Day often draws the most celebration.
The United States’ Office of Human Resources Management describes federal holidays on its website as “a welcome break and a chance to celebrate important events”. This, however, is not the case at Bradley on Labor Day.
If the university will not give students and faculty one day off to recognize their efforts in their studies and work while a large portion of the country is enjoying the day free from work and school, it sends a poor message that does not honor the tradition and reason why Labor Day is celebrated in the first place.