Date February 2, 2016
Media Contact

Brown faculty designates fall holiday as Indigenous People’s Day

The faculty of Brown University has voted to designate the second Monday in October as Indigenous People’s Day. Modifications to the University’s academic calendar require a faculty vote. In April 2009, the faculty renamed Columbus Day as the Fall Weekend holiday.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — At its monthly meeting Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2016, the faculty of Brown University amended the Faculty Rules and Regulations to change the designation of the second Monday of October from Fall Weekend to Indigenous People’s Day.

In April 2009, the faculty voted to change the name of Columbus Day to the Fall Weekend holiday after several months of discussion. On Oct. 27, 2015, members of the Native Americans at Brown (NAB) student organization presented a resolution to the Brown University Community Council (BUCC) calling for the name change of the Fall Weekend holiday to Indigenous People’s Day. The BUCC, a University-wide body for discussion and advisory recommendations on issues, passed the resolution urging the Faculty Executive Committee to put the item on its agenda for consideration.

Renaming the holiday, according to the rationale for the motion presented to the faculty, “would recognize the contributions of Indigenous People/Native Americans to our community and our culture and foster a more inclusive community.”

Prior to the vote, faculty discussed the following goals presented by NAB when advocating for the change:

  • to express the need for opportunities to increase visibility of Native Americans and recognition of Native Americans at Brown;
  • to celebrate the contributions of indigenous communities and cultures; and
  • to acknowledge a legacy of displacement and oppression of Native American peoples.

Thomas Roberts, professor of ecology and evolutionary biology, chairs the Faculty Executive Committee. Roberts issued the following 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.