While I was lying out at the beach on Monday enjoying our day off to observe Cesar Chavez Day, it occurred to me that we rarely, if ever, receive a day off from school.
In fact, just a month and half earlier all my friends were off from work for President’s Day while I dashed off to school. On this Monday though they were all at work. What made Chavez the exception?
In high school I learned about Cesar Chavez, the revolutionary for farm workers, the civil rights leader in the 1960s who co-founded what is now known as the United Farm Workers. Chavez demanded improvements to the harsh working conditions of laborers.
However, in high school we did not get Mr. Chavez’s birthday off to observe the great things he did, but we did for President’s Day to observe Mr. Lincoln and Mr. Washington’s accomplishments. So why now at a CSU do we celebrate March 31?
According to the CSUN academic calendar, CSUN consolidates holidays in order to provide a longer break during the end of December. So we observe Lincoln’s Birthday the day after Christmas, Washington’s Birthday on Dec. 27 and Columbus Day on Dec. 28.
So I understand why we did not get President’s Day off, but why isn’t Cesar Chavez Day observed at the end of December also?
After talking to someone at the CSU Chancellor’s Office and to someone in the Government Affairs Office at the California Department of Education, both of whom seemed rather confused by my inquiry and their first response was, “I don’t know.”
I was finally able to piece together that Cesar Chavez Day is not a federal holiday and therefore cannot be “moved” to a later date. At the same time, unlike federal holidays, Cesar Chavez Day is not a mandatory day for schools to close campuses. Several school districts did not close their campuses, while majority of Sacramento government offices were closed. It is state law that if a school remains open there must be an activity educating students about Cesar Chavez.
For the last few semesters I thought we were getting screwed of days off at CSUN, but in actuality any days the employees can get off, they take off and that translates into us getting the day off from classes.
Though we may not celebrate a particular federal holiday the same day as the rest of the state or nation we do celebrate it – it just might be the day after Christmas.