For our freshman readers (or anyone else who happened to be living under a rock for the past couple of years), we thought it might be helpful to have a brief run-down of of the controversy surrounding Columbus Day on the Brown campus, as told by The Herald’s archives.
Oct. 7, 2008: Protests on Lincoln Field, part of a larger movement within the Native American community to end celebration of Columbus Day
Oct. 28, 2008: The Brown University Community Council voted that a student proposal to stop observing the holiday should be addressed.
Feb. 10, 2009: The Faculty Executive Committee delayed a vote on renaming Columbus Day on the University calendar, stating while the majority supported the measure, they felt they lacked the political authority to make such a call.
Mar. 3, 2009: A motion to rename Columbus Day to Fall Weekend was agreed upon at a faculty meeting, but there were not enough voting members present to make it official.
Mar. 30, 2009: According the a Herald Poll conducted in March, 67.2 percent of students said they would change the name of Columbus Day, with 27.2 percent saying they’d like to stick with Columbus. Luckily Tomato Day never made it off the ground.
Apr. 2, 2009: Follow-up article about The Herald’s poll results, featuring more student and faculty opinions.
Sometime between Apr. 6 and Apr. 13, 2009: The faculty officially voted to change Columbus Day to Fall Weekend. Article mysteriously missing from The Herald’s online search.
Apr. 14, 2009: Decision to change the name sparked heated reactions, causing Brown to be called out by Mayor Cicilline ’83 and by Rush Limbaugh.
Oct. 13, 2009: First University observance of Fall Weekend was marked by protest. A demonstrator (and then president of the Brown College Republicans) said, “American Indians knew not Christianity, and thus lacked the bedrock to construct a great United States of America as we know it today. Columbus, however, was their saving grace.” Yikes.
Fast forward to Fall Weekend 2010. Things seem more peaceful. The local Italian community had its Columbus Day Parade on Atwells Avenue yesterday. It’s too early in the day to say definitively whether there will be protests or outcries, but maybe the dissenters have moved on? Can’t we all just get along and collectively panic about the three days of work that now has to be crammed into one because it didn’t seem so urgent Friday, Saturday or Sunday?