Student Government Discusses Elimination of Columbus Day from Calendar

The name Columbus Day might be stricken from the university calendar in favor of Indigenous Peoples Day, if the Student Government Association and Academic Senate approve. 

Legislation was presented only to the student body senate, and not the house, for review on Monday night. The decision body did not vote on the resolution, as the number of attending members did not meet quorum, also known as the fifteen-member minimum.

Instead, senators discussed why they support or reject the proposition. 

SGA Senator Mitchell Alexander said he supports the legislation, pulling from information learned in an anthropology class this semester.

"Columbus discovered the Caribbean, he didn't even touch Florida," said the Green Lake Resident. "(Honoring) Indigenous Peoples Day is a great respect to the (Saginaw Chippewa Indian) Tribe, which is allowing us to use their name."  

Many senators brought up how despicable some of Columbus's actions were, including encouraging enslavement and genocide. Alexander said keeping Columbus Day supports two stereotypes Columbus wrote about: "That of the red-man and the bloodthirsty savage."

Others in support of the legislation mentioned the lack of calendar events that celebrated Columbus Day this year. However, there were events celebrating Indigenous Peoples Day, a holiday that Mount Pleasant was the first city in Michigan to recognize. 

The University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and Northern Michigan University both recognize the holiday, but Central Michigan university has never done so officially. 

Other senators do not favor striking Columbus Day from the calendar, saying it is recognized by the Federal Government and allows federal employees the day off. 

Senator Austin Blessing said he does not see why they can't both be on the calendar.

"I get where this is coming from, but to remove it from the calendar doesn't seem right," said the senior from White Lake. 

Blessing said the holiday celebrates a man who did both good and bad things, like many others in history, and can be used as a teaching tool for remembering the injustices.

Senator Rahul Gopireddy, who wrote the legislation with senator Eric Emborsky, said the idea for the legislation was presented to the Diversity Committee by the Native American Programs Office. The legislation will come before both the house and Senate for a vote in the coming week.