Brown logo horizontal 2

Why we call this weekend “Fall Weekend”

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.

Charlie “Brown”ing: Existential concerns upon returning from abroad

charlie brown

Ok, so you were abroad last semester, and you’re a little confused. It’s not that you weren’t excited to come back — in fact, you couldn’t wait to eat your first spicy with in over half a year and hug it out with friends who understand lingo like “You do you” and “OMAC.” It’s just that things seem different. When you had your first “spicy with” of the semester, your stomach was NOT happy afterwards — devastatingly, you’d lost your immunity to Jo’s food. Worse, you feel disconnected from some of your friends, and hardly anyone says “You do you” anymore.  You can’t help but feel like Charlie Brown moping around and asking questions about everything that feels different, weird, and new.

But the worst thing of all, the biggest challenge you’ve faced, came at you when you braved the deep dark depths of the Ratty. You were at a little joint called the Ivy Room for a late-night smoothie, and what happened when you went to put the straw in the cup? It bounced right back at you. The caps don’t have holes. What kind of sick person planned that?

Wait a minute. This Ivy Room debacle has nothing to do with your time abroad. Your friend is also horrified by it, and she was here last semester. Maybe you’re not so alone after all. Let’s face it: this concern with belonging to a community is pretty much universal, and it’s something you’ve been dealing with since middle school, when Lucinda wouldn’t let you sit at her lunch table. It’s something pretty much all of us have dealt with at some point. And a big part of belonging, of the Brown identity, seems to be related to contentedness in being here. If you’re at Brown but you don’t feel as content as everyone else in being at Brown, you might feel alienated. Then you get to those questions bigger than “Why don’t the caps have holes?” You ask, “Why isn’t everything fitting just right? Why don’t I fit just right? Why can’t I achieve the ultimate mellow of those people playing Frisbee on the quad?”

Continue Reading

The best of the 2015 Better World by Design conference

The Better World by Design conference took Brown and RISD’s campuses by storm last weekend, bringing 700 attendees and volunteers together to hear from 50 incredible presenters. BlogDH had the honor of covering the three-day event from start to finish, and we live tweeted and intagrammed at you to share in the fun. Now that we’ve recovered from speaking in buzzwords like “design for social innovation” and “disruptive design,” we present to you a round-up of some of our favorite keynotes and workshops at the conference.

The conference opened on Friday with a presentation given by Annie Wu, a RISD alum and employee of Greater Good Studio in Chicago. Wu’s presentation centered on the principle of applying human-centered design to the often neglected, “unexotic underclass,” or those who lie outside the realm of the privileged upper-class that many startups tend to target. Drawing on successes and failures in her own work at Greater Good Studio, Wu’s message encapsulated the conference’s theme of access and perfectly set the tone for the events to come.

Later that day, RISD graduate Elio Icaza (’15) led a workshop on a project he’s been working on called Clear Canvas. The products of Clear Canvas are designed to help students collaborate in art and science classes. The workshop involved a clear white board, with a participant seated on other side. The participants would have to work together to draw an object, an idea or an emotion without talking. The workshop stressed mindful collaboration. By being able to see the person on the other side, the participants learned to respond to each other. This workshop was a lot of fun.


Gavin Atkinson (Brown ’13, RISD ’15) and Lukas Winklerprins (Brown ’15.5) ran a workshop titled “Speaking in Brick – Lego as a Creative Tool”, where participants used legos to explain a community they were a part of and a mental state. The workshop was inspiring, as it allowed participants to formulate and express their ideas despite different points of view.

10958326_540051549491960_847927534_n (1)

Continue Reading

What to expect at this year’s Better World by Design conference

bwxd logo

Tomorrow, the famed Better World by Design conference returns to College Hill for its eighth installment. The theme for this year’s lecture-workshop-panel series, which will take place both up and down the Hill over the course of this weekend — is “access.” According to its website, the conference will strive to “craft a society that is inclusive” by “focus[ing] on collaboration and new mediums of translating ideas.”

So what should you expect this weekend? For one, there’s going to be a lot going on — just check out this schedule. With fourteen different events on Friday alone and a slate of over 50 presenters, this year’s Better World by Design promises to be jam-packed.

The event kicks off today at noon in Salomon, with opening remarks from Annie Wu of Greater Good Studio. Other speakers not to be missed include Alexis Loyd, Creative Director of New York Times Research & Design Lab, and Jason Severs, Executive Creative Director at frog design.

The event exists in blocks that range from 30 minutes to an hour and a half. Be sure to check out the schedule to find which presentations spark your interest, as many run at the same time.

Continue Reading

BlochDailyHerald: An Interview with Professor Stefano Bloch on this Friday’s Urban Studies Paint-Out event

If you’re unfamiliar with Urban Studies at Brown, you might not have heard of 29 Manning, the adorably quaint two-story house on the walk towards the daunting doors of Barus & Holley that serves as the department’s house. Designed in 1938 by architects and owners Peter J. and Margaret B. Geddes, the building “is a striking example of early Rhode Island modernism,” a contrast to College Hill’s overwhelmingly dominant presence of buildings in Federal, Greek Revival, and Colonial Revival styles. Adding to its incredible historical legacy, 29 Manning once served as the office for Peter J. Geddes and his partner, where the duo designed some of Rhode Island’s best modern buildings.*

29 Manning_0

After a 20-year term as the department’s home, the time has come to say goodbye to 29 Manning. To pay homage, Providence artist Gregory Pennisten will produce a full size grafitti-mural on the façade of the building on Friday afternoon. To learn more about how the department is bidding adieu, I sat down with Professor Stefano Bloch, Presidential Diversity Fellow in Urban Studies.

BlogDH: What is your background in relation to graffiti and public murals?

Bloch: I’m interested in graffiti as a phenomenon in terms of how this sub-cultural act contributes to the appearance and functioning of the built urban environment. In my more general interest, I’m always fascinated by the lengths to which people will go to assert themselves in an often-alienating urban environment, even if it means risking their freedom. So transgression and forms of contestation are simply interesting to me on both an intellectual but also personal level.

In my teaching and research, I focus on graffiti like I would focus on any other prolific, visual, and contestative act that contributes to our collective life-worlds. So graffiti to me in that way is not unique at all as well as being so unique in terms of how visually prolific it is. That’s actually the main point – that it is both unique and not unique. It’s not unique in that it’s one of the many components to the development of our life-worlds, our cultural spaces, but it is unique in that it’s so visually present in our lives. While at the same time being, to put it simply, often illegal. In this case it is not illegal.

Professors and their cars...

Professors and their cars…

Continue Reading

Screen Shot 2015-10-01 at 11.43.30 AM

BlogDailyHerald Presents: Brown, what’s good?

Throughout the semester, we’ll be snooping around Brown to ask a hard-hitting question: “Brown, what’s good?” For the pilot woman-on-the-street episode, Ryan Cruise ’17 took on the Main Green to capture the student body’s shopping period musings. Check out the video below to see your classmates discuss everything from meal credit hacks to being a first-gen student: