Do Michigan State University employees get Juneteenth off? Sort of

LANSING — Employees at some of the largest universities across the state do not have Juneteenth off, despite Gov. Gretchen Whitmer making it an official state holiday last year.

The University of Michigan, Western Michigan University, Eastern Michigan University and Central Michigan University are among those that do not give the day off to employees.

Michigan State University does - sort of. Instead of employees having that day off, they have two floating holidays in addition to the holidays they have off, which include holidays like Memorial Day and Thanksgiving. MSU employees can choose to use their floating holidays to take days like Juneteenth, Yom Kippur and Veterans Day off.

MSU Vice President of Communications Emily Guerrant said that this was announced in early 2023 and is meant to allow employees time they can use for any day that is important to them.

Wayne State University and Lansing Community College do give employees the day off, and several K-12 school districts have begun recognizing the day and giving their employees time off.

In October 2022, former Wayne State University president M. Roy Wilson announced that employees would have the holiday off the following year.

"I encourage you to take advantage of this time off to learn about our nation’s fraught history for African Americans and reflect on the of our hard-fought freedom." Wilson said in a email to the university community.

The Michigan Association of State Universities does not offer a specific recommendation. Daniel Hurley, the CEO, said in an email that "[a]s an association, we do not have a position on the Holiday; it is up to the institutions themselves to set policy."

Juneteenth, or June 19, marks the day in 1865 that enslaved Black Americans in Galveston, Texas, were informed that they were freed, more than two months after the end of the Civil War.

Whitmer signed bipartisan legislation last July declaring June 19 as an official state holiday. State of Michigan employees do not work that day. The date was declared a federal holiday in 2021.

In February, Lansing School District Superintendent Ben Shuldiner said that the district would be giving the day off to all employees.

By making the date a district holiday, the district will now be able to give students and staff the day off to "reflect, enjoy, and celebrate the holiday outside of a school setting," officials said in a release.

"This decision by the Board of Education reflects our commitment to honoring and celebrating the importance of Juneteenth in American history," Shuldiner then said in a statement. "By making Juneteenth a school district holiday, we acknowledge the significance of emancipation in our country's shared history."

Contact Sarah Atwood at satwood@lsj.com. Follow her on X, @sarahmatwood.

This article originally appeared on Lansing State Journal: Do Michigan State employees get Juneteenth off? Sort of

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