Officially Recognize Indigenous Peoples' Day at Fordham

Officially Recognize Indigenous Peoples' Day at Fordham

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Anti Racism started this petition to President Joseph M. McShane and

During these past several months, we have experienced many challenges, as a campus community, as a country, and as a globalized world. Right now, we have arrived at a moment of reckoning about our country's oppressive and racist systems -- past and present. Perhaps one of the biggest challenges and instances of growth is realizing which actions we can take in an attempt to build a more inclusive, equitable, and just future. 

Fordham's Rose Hill campus occupies unceded land of the Wappinger people. The Lincoln Center Campus is located down the street from the statue of genocidal Christopher Columbus at Columbus Circle -- both of which occupy unceded land of the Lenape people. In addition to genocide and enslavement of Indigenous Peoples -- many of whom were Black -- Christopher Columbus and his fleet brought with them diseases that decimated as much as 90% of the indigenous peoples inhabiting this land. This is especially important to remember as we navigate the global pandemic of COVID-19. 

We believe that it is long overdue that Fordham University, Gabelli School of Business, School of Law, GSAS, GSE, GRE, GSS, and PCS officially recognize Indigenous Peoples Day in lieu of Columbus Day. By officially, we are asking you, as leaders of the University and its Graduate Schools, to issue a statement indicating that the University (inclusive of all Schools) will from this point forward recognize the second Monday in October as Indigenous Peoples' Day -- not Columbus Day -- and use this nomenclature in all written and oral communications (incl. websites), governing policies, statutes and other documents, and University and School calendars. We request that you enact this change prior to Monday, October 12, 2020, and henceforth refer to this holiday as Indigenous Peoples' Day. 

Fordham prides itself on fighting for social justice and human rights for all. We believe that our current moment is a time to operationalize these values as an entire University community. We respectfully note that Fordham's continued celebration of Christopher Columbus -- a man responsible for initiating mass genocide of Native Peoples in this country -- calls into question the University's commitment to 'cure personals' as it pertains to our fellow indigenous students, colleagues, staff, faculty, and other community members. Now, in this moment where we find ourselves navigating the COVID-19 pandemic within the context of longstanding systemic oppression of Black, Indigenous People of Color (BIPOC) -- in which Columbus played a key role -- seems the appropriate time to make this change. 

While the work of antiracism will invariably require more actions than renaming a holiday, this small yet meaningful step would not only improve the climate at Fordham University and its Graduate Schools, but also communicate to the world that we as an institution are actively choosing to embrace the movement of racial justice. As the leaders of our University and Graduate Schools, you have the power to revise our University School policies to officially rename Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples Day at Fordham, thereby celebrating the lives and legacies of Indigenous Peoples  -- as opposed to a reminder of the all-too-present legacy of genocide and colonialism that continues to pervade our society today. 

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