Indigenous Peoples’ Day to replace Columbus Day as a university holiday

Faculty senate recently approved the change, which is supported by nearly 70% of university students nationally

Dr. Marcus Schultz-Bergin. Photo courtesy of Dr. Marcus Schultz-Bergin

Following the Nov. 3 Faculty Senate meeting, Cleveland State University’s Curriculum Committee Chair Dr. Marcus Schultz-Bergin gave an interview about changing the name of the longstanding Columbus Day observance.

The Faculty Senate meetings have seen some divisiveness over the last few months; however, only one vote went against the motion of Schultz-Bergin and the Curriculum Committee to change the national holiday’s name to Indigenous Peoples’ Day.

As many other universities have already made the switch, Schultz-Bergin detailed the efforts of his organization in their plans for implementing the name change.

“As members of the University Curriculum Committee, we were asked to review the five-year calendar in general for a variety of things,” said Schultz-Bergin. “But, one thing we noticed was that we were still calling it Columbus Day, while most of the other universities were not, and more generally, as a society, there has been a broader push to stop doing that.”

While he discussed his own views clearly, “I can’t speak for other members of the committee on their motivations for doing it, but presumably, we have a view that we shouldn’t be celebrating Columbus,” Schultz-Bergin added.

Many critics of Christopher Columbus cite the inaccuracies of how his story is told in the history books, which omit the use of violence to enslave indigenous people. Beyond this, his voyage was responsible for introducing many diseases to indigenous groups.

The general population may be divided on this issue, but a poll conducted by data and survey analytics company, College Pulse, shows that a vast majority of college students favor the name change.

According to Campus Reform, “An overwhelming 69 percent of university students support replacing Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples’ Day, with over half of that figure stating that they ‘strongly support’ making the change.”

A date for the actual transition is not yet set due to the nature of the process, which is continued outside of the faculty senate. However, “from the perspective of the faculty as a whole, the change has been approved,” Schultz- Bergin said.

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