|Petition to Rename Fall Weekend to Indigenous Peoples’ Day|
In 2009, after ongoing student protests by Natives at Brown and resistance from the University, media, and organizations in and around Providence and Rhode Island, the Faculty Executive Committee voted to change the name of Columbus Day to Fall Weekend. Although the motion passed by majority vote, it was not unanimous and the name “Fall Weekend” was a compromise between Native students pushing for change and the University.
We, as Native students in 2015, want to continue this long legacy of fighting for our visibility on campus by petitioning the University to change the name of Fall Weekend to Indigenous Peoples’ Day. We are formally requesting that the University vote to make this change to promote the on-campus visibility of the resistance and resilience of Native peoples and Native students on Brown’s campus against the continued attempts at disempowerment, disenfranchisement, erasure, and genocide that began with the arrival of Christopher Columbus. Although the current name of the holiday, “Fall Weekend,” halts the active celebration of Columbus’ torture and genocide and the dawn of the transatlantic slave trade, this is the bare minimum that Brown University can do.
Renaming the weekend to “Fall Weekend” does not absolve the University of complicity in Native erasure either. Our history is still rendered invisible with this name. As Ginetta Sagan said, “Silence in the face of injustice is complicity with the oppressor.” This is not only silence about our continued resilience, it is also University silence in the face of the needs of Native students on campus, and silence about institutionalizing support for us. Renaming the holiday Indigenous People’s Day has the power to transform this day into a celebration of the cultures and histories of the original inhabitants of the Americas and students on campus at Brown in the past, present and future.
At a school where task forces have been convened to create a Diversity Action Plan and where there are ongoing conversations and celebrations of “diversity” on campus, there are still antagonistic structural and social forces here that led to the release of several hateful and racist Brown Daily Herald articles this past week, while students of color are still neglected on campus. We, as Native students, do not exist simply to provide the University with statistics or to provide institutionalized organizations on campus with “diverse” perspectives. As an educational institution, Brown University should take advantage of opportunities to institutionalize the education of its students, rather than letting this burden of education about Native peoples fall on a small student organization. As students of this university, we deserve just as much institutional support as our peers and believe that changing Fall Weekend to Indigenous People’s Day is one of many steps to do so.
Changing the name to Indigenous Peoples’ Day is one step on a long road towards institutionalizing support for students, faculty, and administrators of color. If the University is truly serious about creating a comprehensive and effective Diversity Action Plan, then this step needs to be taken as a first action in the Diversity Action Plan.
This is not just a symbolic or political stance that we are taking. Our continuing fight for Native visibility on campus has consequences for us as students, Native communities, and the greater campus community of students of color. We are living testaments to Native resistance and we are requesting a celebration of ourselves, and millions of others like us, rather than a University erasure of the genocide that we had to fight back to get here. This renaming of Fall Weekend is just one small step in a longer walk towards institutionalizing real support for Native students. This petition will not be the end of this discussion, but a beginning. Our voices will continue to sound upon this campus.
|We, the undersigned, are indivduals who urge the Faculty Executive Committee to rename the Fall Weekend holiday to 'Indigenous Peoples' Day'|
|Haley De La Rosafirstname.lastname@example.org|
|Andrew John Lawrenceemail@example.com|
|Sarah Day Dayonfirstname.lastname@example.org|