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CCU students start petition to change fall semester start date because of the eclipse

A petition, that has 900 supporters and counting, is going around Coastal Carolina University to change the start date of the fall semester from Monday the 21st to Tuesday the 22nd because of the solar eclipse (Liz Cooper/WPDE)

Some schools and colleges across the nation are canceling class Monday, August 21st, so students can enjoy the solar eclipse.

Here on the Grand Strand, Coastal Carolina University starts that very day, but some students are hoping to change that.

"We should all experience the eclipse," said Alex Del Castillo, a student at CCU.

That's why he is taking a stand. "I started a petition and decided to put a description of what I felt. I shared it on my Facebook and before I knew it started to skyrocket."

That petition, with 900 supporters and counting, seeks to change the start date of the fall semester from Monday the 21st to Tuesday the 22nd.

"There is a large population of people who are going to be skipping school in the first place just to go experience this phenomenon," said Del Castillo.

He and another fellow supporter, Melis Jones, say they're skipping and watching from Georgetown County.

"We bought tickets to go on a kayak tour to see it," said Jones.

Some schools across the nation are canceling or calling for a half day. Although there are a number of schools that don't start until after the big event, including Francis Marion University and Horry Georgetown Technical College.

"I think everywhere, every place should be showing some type of support for the solar eclipse," said Del Castillo.

University officials acknowledge the petition.

CCU President David A. DeCenzo, Ph.D. released a statement saying, "'CCU has eclipse activities built into the day. 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 ten minute class change, would not be an effective use of classroom time."

Provost Ralph Byington, Ph. D. also weighing in through a statement saying, "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.”

He continued, saying, "With more 10,000 students, we expect to have an active student participation on campus. The calendar is now set for the year. The reference in the statement was related to the process for developing the calendar prior to the upcoming academic year."

Del Castillo and others are still holding on to hope. And if anything, Del Castillo hopes the petition will sheds light on the importance of checking out this rare phenomenon.

"Life is all about reaching those opportunities that you will never get and a solar eclipse in 100 percent totality is one of those opportunities that you will never be able to get," he said.

Byington says students should refer to their professors for any repercussions on missing class.

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