Brown University faculty designates Columbus Day as ‘Indigenous People’s Day’

The holiday has been called ‘Fall Weekend’ at the school since 2009.

No. 8: Brown University | Location: Providence, Rhode Island | Cost: $62,694 | Student Population: 8,943
The last vote concerning the holiday took place in 2009. –Gretchen Ertl/Boston Globe

Brown University faculty voted Tuesday to rename the holiday once called Columbus Day to “Indigenous People’s Day,’’ according to a statement from the university.

The faculty amended the Faculty Rules and Regulations at their monthly meeting to change the holiday’s name.

Thomas Roberts, professor of ecology and evolutionary biology, and chair of the Faculty Executive Committee, issued a statement after the meeting.

Over the course of the fall 2015 semester, faculty, staff, and students at Brown have engaged in a series of conversations around a proposal to change the name of our current Fall Weekend holiday to Indigenous People’s Day. Modifications of the academic calendar require a vote of the faculty. Today a majority of faculty present at the monthly faculty meeting voted to support this proposal by amending the Faculty Rules and Regulations, designating the second Monday of October as Indigenous People’s Day. In discussions prior to the vote, faculty expressed their support for the name change as an opportunity to show support for Native Americans on our campus and beyond, and to celebrate Native American culture and history.

The holiday hasn’t been called Columbus Day on campus since 2009. At that time, students were eager to change the name from “Columbus Day’’ to something entirely different, said Elizabeth Hoover, a Brown assistant professor of american studies and ethnic studies who was a grad student in 2009. A student group called “Natives at Brown“ preferred Indigenous People’s Day, but the rest of the student body voted to change it to “Fall Weekend.’’

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The name stuck for a few years, but, as part of the campus demonstrations that took place nationwide this past fall, the activist group demanded further action from the university, and launched a petition to change the name in October.

“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,’’ they wrote.

Since then, almost 1,220 people had signed it.

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