Students ask Missouri State to cancel classes for eclipse

Students are demanding that Missouri State University cancel classes for an entire day so they can get a slightly better view of the solar eclipse.

“Thousands of students at Missouri State University will miss out on seeing the full solar eclipse because of the first day of classes,” laments an online petition requesting the day-off. “Springfield does not lie on the path of totality for the eclipse, so students will have to drive 2 hours at a minimum to view it.”

Notably, though, Ozarks First reports that while Springfield, Missouri does not lie in the path of full eclipse, viewers in that city will see 96 percent of the eclipse—more than enough for MSU’s College of Natural and Applied Sciences to host a massive viewing party for the August 21 solar eclipse at the university’s Plaster Stadium.

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The event will be free, open to the public, and include complimentary eclipse-viewing glasses. In addition, the schedule indicates that there will be entertainment during the beginning portion of the eclipse, including a “Moon Walk Demonstration and a Zombie Dance.”

Some students and faculty say they are planning to make the two-hour drive to Jefferson City for a better view of the celestial phenomenon, which Dr. Tammy Jahnke, an MSU professor, explained will allow spectators to see the Sun’s corona.

"When the moon fully covers it, you're able to see the atmosphere of the sun and it looks really wavy. You might even be able to see some stars because it gets that dark,” Jahnke told Ozarks First. “Here we're still going to see just a sliver of the sun."

While some indicated that they have already made arrangements to travel, thousands of others want MSU to provide assurances that they won’t be penalized for missing class. At press time, the petition demanding the cancellation of class had accrued 3,805 supporters in three days, just short of its goal of 5,000 signatures.

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Most of the signatories justified the demand by pointing out that the eclipse will be a “once in a lifetime” event (the next solar eclipse visible from the continental United States will take place on August 12, 2045), with some accusing the university of being “selfish” because the coming eclipse “is a once in a life time EDUCATIINAL experience!”

One particularly hyperbolic supporter expressed shock that MSU might not cancel classes, exclaiming, “I mean come on last experience for What? Like a billion freaking years?”

Others, however, were more cynical, freely admitting that they simply “like getting off school” and “don’t wanna go to class.”

MSU has already indicated that it has no plans to accede to the students’ request, pointing out that Southeast Missouri State (located directly in the path of the eclipse) is the only school in the state to cancel classes for the day.

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Students in other states, however, have chosen to follow MSU’s example and start their own petitions for solar justice. South Dakota students have collected a paltry six signatures to deliver to the South Dakota Board of Regents, while Coastal Carolina University students have accumulated 903 names for their petition.

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @SFarkas48