A petition started by URI’s Student Veterans Organization hopes to continue no classes on Veterans Day in 2020. Photo by Anna Meassick

The University of Rhode Island’s Student Veterans Organization (SVO) has started a petition to prevent the faculty senate from allowing classes on Veterans Day in 2020.

In 2020, students are not scheduled to have the day off from classes for Election Day. For the past year, the URI American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has been aiming to get this day off for students in an effort to increase student voting.

However, the faculty senate gave the URI ACLU the option to hold classes on Veterans Day and not to have classes on Election Day to keep the schedule balanced.

“Student veterans were asked their opinions on [having class Veterans Day] and we are against it,” Marland Chang, president of the SVO said. “The reason why is because veterans on Veterans Day, participate in veteran parades, veteran service organization and their veteran obligations. To miss class on that day, whether excused or unexcused, puts veterans one day behind their peers and we feel that’s unfair because part of Veterans Day is remembering veterans.”

The SVO created both a digital petition and physical petition in an effort to ensure no classes would be held on Veterans Day. The petition has been expanded and updated to ensure that no classes will be held on either Veterans Day or Election Day.

“We feel that Veterans Day would be next in that cultural obsolescence that is fading away,” Chang said.

The URI ACLU began their effort to cancel classes on Election Day in 2020 during the Spring 2018 semester, after Treasurer Allison Lantagne conducted a research project where she analyzed an issue people misunderstood.

“I felt like a lot of people had the misconception that young people don’t vote because they don’t care and I felt like that all the people that I knew cared and I was a young person,” Lantagne said. “I just felt like there was no way that that was true and there was something else.”

Lantagne brought the issue to the URI ACLU and they have been advocating for the calendar change since.

After meeting with the SVO to discuss the issues, the URI ACLU and the veteran’s organization joined forces and are working on solutions for the scheduling conflict.

“Right now with the SVO we’ve come to an agreement and we’re pretty much on the same side,” ACLU Vice President Jay Rumas said. “We’re trying to get a manual change that would allow us to reduce the final period so we could have both Veterans Day and Election Day off because they’re both very important. Election Day, because people should be able to exercise their right to vote without being penalized for leaving class and Veterans Day, to honor those that have served.”

The ACLU and SVO have combined their efforts in order to achieve the goal of having both holidays off.

“Now that we’ve collaborated we’ve been looped into that petition,” Lantagne said. “The goals of the petition are the same, some of the wording has changed now that we’re both collaborators on the document. We don’t have our own petition because the petition that the SVO started now is a shared document between the two organizations.”

The faculty senate will vote on the calendar measure at their meeting on Feb. 21. To check out the petition, go to change.org or visit the ACLU or SVO office.