CCU students petition to cancel classes for eclipse


CONWAY, SC (WMBF) – There’s a petition going around to cancel classes for students at Coastal Carolina University so they can have the opportunity to watch the solar eclipse.

Classes start Aug. 21, the same day as the eclipse. WMBF News talked to CCU’s president to find out if he’s considering moving the first day to the Aug. 22.

The petition on was created five days ago. Wednesday, the petition had over 700 signatures.

“It’s like if someone told you, ‘Hey, go to this gas station and at this time, use these numbers for the lottery.’ Everyone’s going to go right?” said CCU sophomore Alex Del Castillo.

Which is why Alex Del Castillo started this petition.

“Comments I’ve been reading, a lot about how this is a once in a lifetime opportunity. It should be taken advantage of, we really should have the availability to go see it in 100 percent totality. It’s just a whole bunch of like mindsets,” said Castillo.

Some professors even agree with students.

“I understand the petition, I think the students need to check with their professors and see what their policy is for missing that day,” said Associate Physics and Oceanography Professor Associate Physics and Oceanography Professor Louis Keiner.

The eclipse will begin with the moon starting to shade the sun around 1:18 p.m., with the totality of coverage for our area being at 2:47 p.m. (lasting about three minutes), and the moon leaving the path of the sun by 4:09 p.m.

President Dr. David DeCenzo heard about this petition from students.

“CCU has eclipse activities built into the day,” said Dr. David DeCenzo. “We encourage our students to participate in these activities. However, cancelling class for the eclipse, which will last about three minutes and which actually occurs during a 10-minute class change, would not be an effective use of classroom time.”

“Being in 100 percent totality and being in 99 percent totality are two different perspectives and to be able to be in 100 percent totality is literally an hour away. And I get that it’s between class changes and some people have breaks in between classes but the traffic that there is going to be to go to Pawleys Island or Charleston is phenomenal,” Castillo said.

The Provost and Executive Vice President Dr. Ralph Byington also weighed in.

“The university is required to provide a specific number of classroom hours each academic year. The faculty set the academic calendar with the Calendar Committee. From their charge, ‘Holidays and days off will be determined with due consideration of the number of classroom hours each class will meet.’ To change could potentially require that days be added to the end of the semester or that holiday days be removed,” Byinton said.

“I completely understand where they’re coming from and all the decisions that they make but as an average student I’m probably going to really have to weigh my options whether to go to school for the first day or go to this once-in-a-lifetime phenomenon and I know that a lot of other students are doing the same decision-making,” Castillo said.

The Thursday before the eclipse, there will be a program at CCU called “What to expect from the Great American Eclipse of 2017.” And the university is providing free glasses for the first 5,000 students, faculty and staff to gather on Prince Lawn to view the eclipse the day of.

Related Link:

View the CCU students’ petition here

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