MLK@UNH 2018: Going Into Stealth Mode

The Dream of Martin Luther King,

[Update: This article turned out to be premature. More on what's going on at UNH for MLK here]

For many years, the University Near Here has conducted a "celebration" of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday. It was kind of a big deal: invited speakers, book signings, candlelight marches, church services (aka "spiritual celebrations").

This coming year, things will be different. The announcement of the "16th Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Summit" is remarkable in its reticence about what will actually happen.

There's a "theme": "Race, Sexuality and Romantic Identity, Ability". (OK, so that's maybe three themes.)

The description, in its entirety:

Named in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the MLK Summit is a two and a half day social justice development institute that allows students to build identity competencies and to expand their understanding of community activism.

This retreat is FREE and open to all** full-time undergraduates and graduate students who are interested in gaining a better understanding of diversity and working toward social justice on the UNH campus and beyond!

The MLK Summit is an excellent opportunity for students to create a greater sense of community and explore critical issues related to social inequity in a challenging environment that promotes growth, reflection, community building, and honest dialogue.

The usual activist windbaggery and jargon, of course. But no specifics, no lists of speakers or events, not even locations. Why, it's almost as if they don't want people to know what's going on!

And, unlike previous years, the public ain't invited to anything. Just full-time students, thanks very much. And it's not as if they can just show up either.

Because, this year, you have to fill out an application if you want your identity competencies built or your understanding of community activism expanded. It's a "competitive[!] and formal process", kid. Even though we said it's "open to all full-time undergraduates and graduate students", that may not include you, sorry.

I just got to the first page. In order to get beyond that, I would have had to lie. Chuckled at this, though:

They, Them, Theirs
She, Her, Hers
He, Him, His
Ze, Hir, Hirs
I use my name as my pronoun
My pronouns are not listed

… but they don't ask you to pigeonhole yourself otherwise. Except sneakily:

Please Attach a Photo of Yourself (Preferably a larger file)

Even though they say "please", the picture appears to be required. Leading one to suspect that they may not be judging applicants by the content of their character.

So, an awful lot of hoops the kiddos must jump through in order to attend. Couple this with the shying-away about what's actually gonna happen at the summit, and… it's almost as if they don't want people to show up.

Past Pun Salad MLK@UNH coverage: 2006, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2017. We skipped reporting the 2008 and 2016 events, because they were boring.

Finally, I can't help but notice that most, if not all, records of UNH's previous MLK celebrations are now 404-memory-holed. Out of embarrassment? But if you really want to check out the differences between this year's non-event and previous years, the Internet Archive Wayback Machine is your friend. For example, here's 2009, the year of Angela Davis.

Last Modified 2018-12-28 5:43 AM EDT