Truman State’s student senate passed an Indigenous People’s Day resolution about three weeks after the first resolution failed, benefiting culturally focused organizations on campus.
The first resolution failed to be passed by student senate on Oct. 4 with a split nine to nine vote. Senators brought up concerns about the wording of the current resolution. Junior Christy Crouse, diversity committee chair, says the original resolution proposed celebrating Indigenous People’s Day in place of Columbus Day. She says many were concerned about replacing Columbus Day because Columbus is an important figure in our history.
Crouse says she presented the change as a new resolution and when discussion was open Jake Buxton, who opposed the original resolution, motioned to stop discussion and vote to pass the resolution. Crouse says there was no objection and it passed unanimously.
Crouse says she received a lot of feedback from individuals on campus when the first resolution did not pass. She says one group asked to start an initiative with signatures in support of the resolution. Faculty volunteered to speak at the senate meeting and write a letter asking for support.
“That’s the reason I kept with the issue – when people heard it didn’t pass they reached out to me about starting an initiative to gain signatures,” Crouse said. “It did have a huge effect [at the meeting] each time I introduced or talked about it, I talked about the vast support from campus.”
The passing of the resolution benefits student interest groups and culturally focused organizations on campus. Specifically, the Multicultural Affairs Center was a major supporter of the resolution, seeking the student governing body’s support to further the impact of Indigenous People’s Day.
Jerad Green, program director for the MAC, says he noticed other locations in the United States were recognizing Indigenous People’s Day in place of Columbus Day. He says he values the overall idea of cultural preservation and language, so he proposed the idea to Crouse and why he thinks Truman needs this event.
Green says this year was the first year the MAC hosted events for Indigenous People’s day and only 20-30 students were in attendance. Green says the support of student government will help raise awareness for this event during the future.
“Students in general, but [especially] student government, have a strong voice. Undergraduates in general have a lot of power they don’t realize. I think if there’s that support from a student body, which is the voice to the administration to the board of governors, this voice really pushes things forward.”
– Jerad Green, program director for the Multicultural Affairs Center
Green says the MAC’s relationship with student senate will allow them to have multicultural conversations. Green says the conversation is going beyond celebrating diversity and accepting different cultures. He says it is evolving to topics of social justice, equity and matters that affect people on a deeper level.
“It says a lot about the University,” Green says. “It shows they’re focused on the communities that they serve. [Multiculturalism] needs to be woven into the fabric of what the institution is and what it values.”
Junior senator Jake Buxton started the discussion of concern with the wording of the original resolution. Buxton says after meeting with Crouse and agreeing upon wording that worked for both senators, a new resolution was created. Buxton says Crouse informed him of the student concerns for this initiative. After discussions on the implications of the new resolution, Buxton says he can see the long-term benefits of student senate support for the cause.
“The MAC has been celebrating Indigenous People’s Day for a while, but people wanted to make a statement,” Buxton says. “Do I think it will start more conversation? Absolutely. I think it has the potential to create a very engaging conversation about Columbus and indigenous people.”