The Daily Illini

Students urge student senate to vote in favor of Indigenous People’s Day

By Gillian Dunlop, Staff Writer

Several members of the Native American and Indigenous Student Organization spoke at the Illinois Student meeting Wednesday during the public comment portion of the meeting to urge senators to vote in favor of the legislation that would replace Christopher Columbus Day with Indigenous People’s Day.

Members of the organization clarified that they are not trying to erase Columbus from history, but rather celebrate the indigenous people.

“We should definitely recognize and give value to the indigenous population that has been extremely marginalized in the course of our nation’s values,” said Amorita Falcon, senior in FAA and member of the Native American and Indigenous Student Organization.

Not all members of the senate were in support of this change. Vice President External Alex Villanueva was particularly against it.

“I don’t believe in replacing Columbus Day,” he said. “Columbus Day, to me, is a day to recognize (the Italian) impact on the modern day America. I think Columbus day has a place to be celebrated. It’s not necessarily a day to celebrate Columbus himself, but the people who came to the new world to escape the old world.”

Villaneuva’s comments prompted a debate among members of the senate and the Native American and Indigenous Student Organization.

“What Columbus did to the indigenous people is atrocious,” Thereza Lituma, sophomore, in FAA and member of the Native American and Indigenous Student Organization said. “This is the opportunity to educate the campus. I really do not believe that having Columbus as a figure to celebrate is appropriate.”

Vice President Internal Spencer Haydary agreed with Lituma, encouraging the senators to pass this piece of legislation.

“I really strongly urge everyone to vote strongly for this resolution,” he said. “It’s going to not change history but it’s going to manipulate its presentation and be more inclusive.”

The legislation was passed with a majority of the senate vote.

Next, the senate discussed whether it should be required for professors to report mid-semester grades to all undergraduate students.

A debate began over whether professors should be required or simply encouraged. In a 9-15 vote, however, the motion to change the word “required” to “encouraged” failed. In a resolution of 19-7-1 the legislation passed.

The next piece of legislation discussed was the Association of Big Ten Students conference, which highlighted the senate’s potential participation in this event. The resolution was passed so a select few members of the senate will be going to the conference.

Finally, it was agreed that the senate will co-sponsor a town hall meeting with McKinley Health Center to discuss student insurance. No further details were offered on that subject. 

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