A grassroots effort to convince the UNCW administration to cancel classes Thursday afternoon in order to allow students to watch the Seahawks first game in the NCAA tournament in a decade was rejected by the university Tuesday.
Following a message to students, a university official sent us a statement saying the potential cancellation would be too much of a disruption.
"While we appreciate our students' enthusiastic support of this athletic event, UNCW is first and foremost an academic institution. As always, faculty have the discretion to cancel classes. However, canceling classes, even from only 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. on Thursday, would disrupt over 300 classes for over 7,800 students. We are all very excited to support our men's team but must remain committed to our core mission of education."
The effort to gather signatures on a petition on the website "change.org" began Monday morning with a student.
"This is the first time since we've done it in 2006 and the tournament goes throughout the day, I wanted students to be able to experience this in a unique way since this doesn't happen often,” explained Tyler Cox, the creator of the petition. “It's the first time in ten years. So this is an opportunity I just couldn't pass up."
UNCW will face off against Duke, the reigning champion, in the first round of the NCAA tournament on Thursday afternoon at 12:15. The petition, which had more than 3400 signatures by Tuesday afternoon even appeared to include support from one person identifying himself as UNCW Trustee Dennis Burgard.
"May be a one time opportunity for the students, faculty, and employees at UNCW to come together in a way that we all know can be rare. As an alumnus and a Trustee, you have my 100% support....GO SEAHAWKS!" wrote Dennis Burgard on the website Monday night.
Cox hoped the petition would spark a change from teachers, and he learned a lot of the student body agreed.
"I realized we had classes that day too and I was like we have to get out of classes like it's been ten years," one UNCW student exclaimed.
UNCW’s last appearance in 2006 ended with a loss in overtime against George Washington in the first round.
The university is putting on a viewing party at Trask Coliseum starting at 11:30 a.m. on game day for faculty, staff, and students.
"This might be our big chance to rally together as a university and watch this game and be a part of March Madness."
Monday afternoon, students sat around campus discussing the petition and urging their friends to sign it.
"Sign it! Do you want to go to class on Thursday, or do you want watch basketball?"
They hoped teachers heard their pleas.
“Just let us go, let us go! There's no choice, just let us go! Got to support the squad," shouted one student.
“This is our moment, this is our time, sign that petition, let us out of class," said another student, while thrusting her fist in the air.
“Think of the children who have to sit through class while this game is going on, think of them," one student laughed while trying to appear somber.
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