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Faculty should approve change to Indigenous People’s Day

A recent student proposal is petitioning the university to change Columbus Day to Indigenous People’s Day in the academic calendar in order to counter an American history that has displaced Native Americans and since overlooked their cultures and narratives. Keeping the holiday with its current name reinforces an appreciation for Christopher Columbus, who embodies the colonialism that has long pushed Native Americans to the periphery of American recognition.

The change to Indigenous People’s Day is two-fold. No longer should we honor a man who brutally colonized the continent and contributed to the downfall of millions of indigenous peoples. Additionally, the name change would recognize Native Americans’ contributions to the nation and specifically Brandeis. Many other collegiate institutions have accomplished this name shift, and Brandeis should be no exception.

The Undergraduate Advisory Council, a group of faculty, staff and administrators who are responsible for modifications to the academic calendar, is interested in changing the holiday name. After this Thursday’s UAC meeting, its faculty members decided to first consult the Faculty Senate, who will submit a recommendation to the full faculty. All faculty members will then be able to vote as a collective body on Oct. 7, three days before the holiday on Oct. 10.

Due to this swift turnaround, it is crucial for students to sign the petition encouraging faculty to vote in favor of implementing Indigenous People’s Day in the academic calendar. Faculty should know that this is an issue that students are passionate about, especially in light of the university’s principles of social justice and consciousness.

Brandeis cannot make piecemeal change to racial and ethnic inclusivity. As the administration comes into the final weeks of making a decision on the Chief Diversity Officer, they should realize that it is more urgent than ever to commit to ideals of inclusion. This is a perfect opportunity for the Plan for Diversity and Inclusion to cease being a plan and be put into action.

We look forward to seeing the second Monday of October forever listed on the academic calendar as Indigenous People’s Day.

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