Why we call this weekend “Fall Weekend”

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On April 7, 2009, Brown’s faculty voted to rename the annual holiday on the second Monday in October “Fall Weekend.” The vote was made at one of the faculty’s regular monthly meetings; under the rules of Brown’s governance, all decisions regarding the academic calendar are made by an all-faculty vote. Then-President, Ruth Simmons, and other university administrators were not involved in the decision, while then-chair of the Faculty Executive Committee, James Drier, professor of Philosophy, abstained from the vote.

In their statement released the next day, the Committee noted that, “since fall 2008, faculty, staff and student committees at Brown have discussed proposals to eliminate the formal observance of Columbus Day. Following much discussion, the vote was not unanimous, reflecting the difficulty and complexity of this sensitive and symbolic issue.”

Columbus Day became a federal holiday in 1937 to honor the supposed discoverer of America. His 1492 landing in the Bahamas marked the beginning of European colonization of the Americas, which would result in the death of entire indigenous populations within forty years, due to disease and warfare. Columbus’ history of genocide has in many ways been erased from our societal narrative, marginalizing many communities. Although Brown faced some criticism in the media following the renaming in 2009, many schools and even cities have made similar decisions.

While the faculty ultimately made the decision to rename the holiday, the movement and strong desires that propelled that decision came from within the student body. “A small group of students who wanted the University to stop recognizing Columbus Day” worked on a project not unlike the sort we see on campus today; recognizing that there was a problem with a celebration named after Columbus, they engaged in months of dialogue with university administrators and faculty.

Although the students initially asked that Brown instead give off another Monday of the month, it was decided that Fall Weekend would coincide with the national holiday to better accommodate the faculty and staff with children in local schools. The Herald poll from the time indicated that “the majority of Brown students disapproved of continuing to call the holiday Columbus Day.”

This brief history lesson hopes to provide information on how we as a university and community came to refer to next weekend as “Fall Weekend.” For many, it may be a surprise how recent a change that was, or the work that past students and some current faculty put into making it happen. On Monday, there will be a demonstration on the Main Green hosted by the Native Americans at Brown with the goal of having the holiday renamed “Indigenous Peoples Day.” BlogDailyHerald will be providing coverage of the protest next week.

While everyone on campus may not support the desires of some students on campus to rename Fall Weekend, we as publication think the topic deserves due coverage. The BlogDailyHerald of Wesleyan, Wesleying, published a post earlier this year called “Responsibility and Inclusion in the Argus and on Wesleying.” The article, which is definitely worth a read, makes the point that campus publications have a responsibility to the students they attempt to represent and report to. “Publications are not mere platforms for discussion, they are institutions that make choices.”

BlogDailyHerald is, of course, not immune to making mistakes in neglecting topics that are relevant to underrepresented communities on campus, and in publishing content that does not properly represent the entire student body whom we hope to serve. As a campus life publication, we need to work hard to make sure we are providing content that speaks to all areas of campus life. We want to acknowledge our commitment to this responsibility.


Pollerbears: What is the quietest space on campus?

Even the freshmen must have figured this out by now: Brown students create quiet study spaces where there are no laws mandating silence, and talk and chew food where signs tell us to do otherwise. As rule-breakers and trendsetters, we don’t care that the Rock’s “Absolute Quiet Room” has a sign prohibiting laptop use or that the Leung Gallery was actually meant to be an upper Blue Room social space. We talk or don’t talk as we please! We type where we want. Except for the Hay; everyone respects the Hay.

Rules no one ever has followed

A photo posted by BlogDailyHerald (@blogdailyherald) on

Particularly laughable is the SciLi’s attempt to tell us what decibel level to speak at in specific areas. I have no idea how many decibels normal speaking voice or whispering is, but I do know that the 00 decibel space is definitely supposed to be quieter than the 75 decibel space. This never happens.

So, we at BlogDH are here to poll the student body on what actually is the quietest space on campus. Silence etiquette is definitely important — it’s basic manners — albeit hard to figure out.

Happy midterms season!

What's the most quiet of Brown's quiet spaces?

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Alums Who Do Cool Things: Ben Lerner ’01 wins MacArthur grant

Photo courtesy of Matt Lerner.The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation fellowships are often called “genius grants,” because the selected fellows get $625,000 with what the Foundation itself calls “no-strings attached.”

There is no application; an anonymous committee makes the decision to select individuals who have shown “extraordinary originality and dedication in their creative pursuits.” Those individuals then receive over half a million dollars to just keep doing what they’re doing.

This year, the 24 fellows include a puppeteer, a history professor, a chemist, and Brown alum, Ben Lerner. Lerner graduated Brown with a B.A. in Political Science in 2001, and remained at Brown to attain a M.F.A in creative writing. He is no stranger to prestigious awards (Fulbright, Guggenheim Fellow) or high critical praise.

Lerner is the author of three collections of poetry and two novels. If you haven’t read it already, Leaving the Atocha Station is definitely worth picking up. The novel follows narrator Adam Gordon through a year in Spain, where, having won a prestigious fellowship, he mostly just attempts to keep up the appearance of doing something.

Lerner also works as a professor at Brooklyn College, though he told the New York Times that he can now hopefully spend less time teaching and more time writing. Regarding the grant, Lerner said, ““It takes away all your excuses to not be doing the most ambitious work.”

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Brown Lecture Board announces Jane Goodall as speaker

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World-renowned primatologist Jane Goodall will be speaking at Brown on October 19th as Brown Lecture Board’s fall speaker, as reported by the Herald this morning. Tickets will be available via an online lottery, which will be held at 12 p.m. October 13–15.

Goodall is best known for her 55-year study of the chimpanzees in Gombe National Park in Tanzania. When beginning her work in 1960, Goodall had no formal training or education in the sciences. Her work studying chimpanzee daily life and relationships disproved many previously commonly-held beliefs, as she discovered the strong similarities between human relations and those between chimpanzees, as well as the latter’s ability to make and use tools.

Goodall, now 81, is also the founder of the Jane Goodall Institute, which works on wildlife preservation. She has achieved celebrity status as the foremost primatologist in the world (can you name another?). She also guest starred on The Wild Thornberrys, which inspired this New York Times article about how great The Wild Thornberrys was. Relive your Nickelodeon-inspired dreams of talking to animals below – Goodall appears at about 2:36.

Past Lecture board speakers have included George Takei, Nick Offerman, Julie Bowen, and Bill Nye.

 

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What to do this week: September 28 – October 4

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Monday, September 28

Event: The High Line, Supergentrification and the Street
Time: 2:00 p.m.
Location: Petteruti Lounge

The Urban Studies DUG brings you this lecture on a very hip topic: Manhattan’s west side High Line and “the role of supergentrification in current and planned developments” of it.

Tuesday, September 29

Event: Fall 2015 Tech Careers Fair
Time: 12:00 – 4:00 p.m.
Location: Sayles

Tech employers looking for computer scientists and developers will be here scooping out the future Bill Gates. Happy coding! (As a senior Philosophy concentrator, I am jealous of people who can attend this event. I’m also available for dates.)

Event: Farm Fresh Rhode Island Benefit Night
Time: 5:00 – 9:00 p.m.
Location: Flatbread

A portion of the proceeds from pizza bought this night will go towards Farm Fresh RI.

Event: IFF Presents: Screening of The Hunting Ground + Panel
Time: 7:00 p.m.
Location: Granoff Auditorium

IFF and React to Film are cohosting this screening of The Hunting Ground, a documentary on sexual assault on U.S. campuses and institutional cover up. The screening will be followed by a panel discussion. Doors will open at 6:30 p.m.

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Pollerbears: Shopping period is ending…

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Don’t you love the first week of school? You get to be excited about classes and yet have no work for them because maybe you’re just ~shopping~. While I know the whole not-knowing-your-schedule thing can stress people out, I personally love shopping, be it for classes, groceries, or on Etsy.

But sadly, all good things come to an end. You better know what you’re taking because fee-free registration, and shopping period, officially ends at 5 p.m. tomorrow. Also coming to an end: the lax attitude about work that one enjoys in the first few, hectic weeks of school. There will, sadly, be no excuse for not having bought the books. Sections will be starting… Assignments might even be coming up. So are you guys going to the library tonight? (I haven’t been yet…)

Is it time to start working?

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