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College of Idaho Honors MLK Legacy with Advocacy Training, Poverty Simulation

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Martin Luther King Jr. in Washington, D.C. on Aug. 28, 1963. - WIKIMEDIA COMMONS / PUBLIC DOMAIN
Despite Martin Luther King Jr. Day having been a national holiday in the United States for more than three decades, Monday, Jan. 16, MLK Day 2017, will be only the second time The College of Idaho has cancelled classes for the day, in honor of the civil rights leader's legacy.

“Prior to [last year], we’ve had classes on Martin Luther King Day,” said College of Idaho Student Body President Cameron Arnzen. “Last year, we saw an opportunity that this could be a day of reflection on campus and give us an opportunity as students, as staff, as faculty, as a community, to reflect on and think about our values and what kind of community we want to be.”

Not only will classes be canceled Monday, but C of I students will mark the holiday with a variety of events beginning Sunday, Jan. 15, including one in which students will have the opportunity to take a bus to Farmway Village, a low-income housing development in Caldwell, where attendees will simulate conditions of poverty while learning about the importance of immigrant labor to Idaho’s culture and economy.

Events continue on Monday, when the United Way of the Treasure Valley will present a second poverty simulation, this time on campus, using what organizers call a “game of choices."

“Students will need to make some tough choices. They have to navigate life through childcare expenses, food, housing, transportation. . . all those important things,” said Robynn Browne, director of development and community engagement for United Way of Treasure Valley. “We see people prioritize things differently and we’ll ask, ‘Why did you make that choice?’”


Later in the day, C of I alumna and community activist Chelsea Lincoln will lead attendees in what she calls “advocacy training."

“I'll be talking about moving forward in our current political climate and what it means to be an ‘upstander’ and not a ‘bystander’ to injustice,” said Lincoln. “Whether it’s gender, reproductive [rights], climate, immigration, any of those things that we see targeted right now.”

MLK Day will wrap up at C of I with a “reflection session."

“Ultimately, it’s supposed to be a day of reflection, not only for what we have done but also what we can do moving forward,” said Arnzen.

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