Once again, Hillsdale College students labored away on Labor Day as the school continued its longstanding tradition of neglecting the holiday.
Throughout its history, the school has waffled about closing on Labor Day. After staying open on the holiday for years, the college decided to cancel classes and close administration offices in 2000. In 2002, classes resumed while the administration offices closed. In 2008, the whole college recognized the holiday, but for the past nine years, both classes and offices have continued to operate on Labor Day.
The decision to continue operations makes it easy for Hillsdale students to forget that Labor Day isn’t just another Monday.
“If my professor hadn’t said anything, I would have completely forgotten about Labor Day,” senior Danny Drummond said.
Those who remember they’re missing a holiday sometimes entertain the theories swirling around campus.
Students said there’s a rumor that the school feared retention problems: If freshmen were allowed to go home for a long weekend this early in the semester, they might never come back.
Others blame refusal to accept federal funding or a lack of unionized workers.
For the administration, the reason is simple.
“Hillsdale does not take Labor Day off for the simple reason that, by this point in the summer, everyone’s jet-skis are broken anyway, and so there would be no point,” Provost David Whalen said in an email, joking.
College President Larry Arnn agreed.
The decision not to observe the holiday with a break, according to an email from Arnn, “stems from the sacred principle, if you just had three months off, [it is] not time for vacation.”
Chief Administrative Officer Rich Péwé also noted that taking the day off would be an untimely vacation.
“Students had a long weekend upon arrival and nothing productive to do,” he said. “Better for them to stay in the groove of classes.”
It’s unclear whether Hillsdale will ever take Labor Day off, but for Arnn, that’s projecting too far.
“Ever is a long time,” Arnn said. “Not so long as the eye can see.”