As of this writing, our nation is going bonkers (in a good way) over the upcoming total solar eclipse. It is the first eclipse of its kind to cross any part of the United States since 1979, and public viewings are sure to be completely packed.
Due to their rarity, solar eclipses are often considered once-in-a-lifetime events, but some professors still think their classes are more important than the wonders of the universe. And I thought I had a big ego.
I will not be singling anyone out in this article, but I have heard numerous accounts from friends and co-workers who have classes meeting at their regular times during the eclipse. I was lucky enough to have some classes canceled in advance, but I still have a class that ends right before the eclipse starts.
For reference, the moon will begin eclipsing the sun at around 11:30 a.m. in Manhattan, and it will finish passing in front of the sun by around 2:30 p.m. The sun will be almost 99 percent covered by the moon just after 1 p.m.
The university has officially pardoned students who skip the first day of class, preventing them from suffering attendance penalties, but that does not prevent students from missing important information on day one. Anecdotally, I have heard of professors sending emails that urge their students to come to class during the eclipse so they are not behind on coursework.
I admit I am a biased astronomy fanboy, but I think it is downright egomaniacal for professors to have classes on the day of a total solar eclipse. The first day of class is usually unproductive anyway, so why on Earth would they think that anything useful is going to happen in class on the day of a major celestial event?
Even if students do not take advantage of the suspended attendance policy and go to class, I doubt any professors will be impressed by their students’ efforts. Almost everyone will be busy trying to look out the window instead of paying attention. Is reading the syllabus really something that cannot possibly wait a day or two?
The next total solar eclipse to cross the United States will not do so until 2024, seven years from now. Not only that, but Kansans will have to drive to southern Missouri to get a good view. Most of the students at Kansas State right now will not be students anymore in 2024, so for many of them it is now or never to see a total solar eclipse in Manhattan.
Ideally, the university would have canceled all classes and pushed the first day of the fall semester to Tuesday. If any day of class is going to receive a university-wide cancellation, the first day is an obvious best choice since nothing is going on yet.
I can understand why the university did not impose its will on professors who see things differently, but I think it is extremely unfortunate that some students will have a less-than-ideal experience viewing the total solar eclipse. Any educators who want to encourage learning should allow students to see the wonders of our solar system when they happen.
Ultimately, it is too late for professors to change their minds about canceling class for the sake of watching the eclipse. I hope any students with classes during the eclipse will exercise their right to play hooky. For one day only, it is penalty free!
Kyle Hampel is a junior in English. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Collegian. Please send comments to [email protected]