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University News

UCS discusses Decolonization at Brown statue removal initiative

Council also discusses committee progress toward goals for semester, votes on anti-discrimination clause

Senior Staff Writer
Wednesday, October 14, 2020

The Undergraduate Council of Students discussed an initiative presented by student group Decolonization at Brown to remove and replace Roman statues on campus, began voting on the Student Activities Anti-Discrimination Clause introduced at last week’s meeting and shared committee updates at its general body meeting Wednesday evening.

Junaid Malik ’20.5, Sam Kimball ’22 and former Herald Copy Desk Chief Kelley Tackett ’20.5 presented on behalf of DAB, detailing their views on why the statues should be replaced and asking for UCS to endorse their initiative.

DAB has spent nine months researching the history of statues on campus and talking to faculty and students about their views on them, Malik said. He identified the Caesar Augustus statue in front of the Sharpe Refectory and the Marcus Aurelius statue on the Ruth J. Simmons Quadrangle as pieces that DAB believes perpetuate white supremacy.

“It is not that difficult to see how a statue of (Caesar Augustus) would serve as an icon of colonial and imperial domination,” Tackett said. “They function not as monuments to ancient Rome, but to a set of values and political stances which existed when they were commissioned on Brown’s campus,” she continued, noting that Roman statues have historically been associated with whiteness and Eurocentric standards of beauty.

“Given the scale and prominence of these statues on our campus, what kind of impact does that make on student well-being and inclusion of students of color?” Kimball asked, adding that DAB perceives a disconnect between the University’s ideals of inclusion and the historical connotations of the statues.

“For those of us who come from countries that were also colonized, these statues carry the symbolism of conquest, one that we think is incompatible with the continued occupation of Indigenous land in the U.S.,” Malik said.

UCS will vote on whether to endorse DAB’s initiative at next week’s general body meeting.

Student Activities Chair Claire Brown ’22 answered also questions about the amendment she presented at last week’s general body meeting, which will require all student groups to include an anti-discrimination statement in their bylaws, The Herald previously reported

If it passes, the amendment will still have to be ratified by individual student groups before it is added to their constitutions, but Brown said she expects the process to be unanimous. “If they’re not in compliance with our code of operations, they’re not a UCS-recognized group,” she said, noting the anti-discrimination statement would be codified into the Council’s code of operations.

General body members who were present at the meeting were able to vote via a Google form after the meeting Wednesday night.

Committee chairs also delivered updates at the meeting. Chair of Equity and Inclusion Jai’el Toussaint ’22 detailed his committee’s work on the implementation of the Pathways to Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan and efforts to secure a new dedicated physical space for the Undocumented, First-Generation College and Low Income Student Center, which currently shares the fifth floor of the Sciences Library with the Writing Center.

Chair of Student Life Zane Ruzicka ’23, Appointments Chair Eamon McKeever ’22, UCS President Jason Carroll ’21 and UCS Vice President Summer Dai ’22 also shared general progress updates about their respective Council responsibilities.

Correction: A previous version of the headline for this article called Decolonization at Brown Decolonize at Brown. The Herald regrets the error.  

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  1. The College Hill Clown Car rolls on! There aren’t any statues of Confederate Generals, slave-owning US Presidents or Cristobal Colon on campus to tear down but a couple of effigies of two dead Roman emperors are the next best thing to go after because … inclusion!
    Brown Football can’t win a game but at least Brown can stay competitive with the kids from Portland in the statue toppling olympics. Can’t let Antifa have all the iconoclastic fun.
    If it hasn’t been hidden away yet, there’s that bust of John Hay in the lobby of the library named for him. Maybe after y’all dump Marcus and Augustus into Narragansett Bay you can throw that shiny nosed statue of Mr Hay (he/him) into the trash cans at Ratty. Hay worked with Bill McKinley and Teddy Roosevelt and we all know those two did a bunch of bad things (Remember the Maine, Boxer Rebellion and Panama Canal and all that) so Hay should go as well. Guilt by association. Hay must have been done something wrong as well because … white supremacy! “Show me the man and I’ll show you the crime” as Beria used to say.
    Stay Woke Brunonia!

  2. Reynolds Woodcock '13 says:

    You’ve got to be kidding me! Roman Statues?! Good thing we don’t have Greek or Babylonian statues on campus!

    • It’s a toss up there. On the one hand, the Babylonians were a Semitic people and their material artifacts could maybe get points for being produced by “peoples of color” and for displaying aesthetics that were not “Eurocentric standards of beauty”. Those giant-bearded-goat-men-with-wings statues are quite impressive. At least the ones that haven’t been destroyed by ISIS. Maybe the ISIS fighters were offended that the statues weren’t bearded women? Need to be inclusive here, folks, and women can have beards, wings and goat feet just like any man can. I am woman hear me roar (or bleat) – literally.
      The Greeks seemed to be much more tolerant of same sex liaisons than those deplorable types in fly over country, so maybe the Hellenic stuff gets to stay too.
      On the other hand, the Greeks also had colonies and Greek culture was pretty supreme in the Byzantine Empire until Constantinople got the works from the Turks who where off on there own little mission of colonalism and supremacy. The Babylonians also did their share of empire building, conquest and quasi-genocide. Ask the Jews about that last bit. But we don’t talk about that here because we don’t talk about colonialism and supremacy when it’s perpetrated by people whose pigmentation was a darker shade of pale.
      So once the “Brown is Woke” mob gets done with the two Caesars (they spoke Latin so are they also Latinx? or maybe Italianx?) it’ll look for something else to go after to tear down. “Hasta la revolucion siempre” as Comrade Che used say.

  3. These so-called “students” at Brown are truly a disgrace to the University. Before too long, all of the buildings’ names will be removed in favor of Building #1, Building #2, and so on. Even old Rhode Island Hall will certainly be damned for its connection to the “Greek colonial era” (whatever that was). That means that the state of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations can no longer be called anything since “Plantations” is on its way out, “Rhode” must go, and “Providence” surely refers to something that will offend seven people, meaning that it must go, too. At least “Brown” refers to a color, since that seems to be so important. It’s beyond me how these kids can spend so much time on their wokeness and perverting every other word they encounter. Thank goodness his name wasn’t John Nicholas White. Why is the BDH complicit in reporting this garbage?

  4. Tim Peacock '12 says:

    Certainly we can look at the history of Julius enslaving and killing the people of Gaul and condemn him. As rulers come and go, he’s hardly a figure to be emulated by a modern and thoughtful Brown student.

    Marcus, on the other hand, is easily held up as an example of philosophical and just rule. His Meditations speak to the fundamental challenges of the human condition across the ages, and the decisions and difficulties he faced in life are a continuing example to learn from.

    Taking down the Julius statue seems a reasonable statement that Brown rightly condemns a leader who ruled through cruelty and against established law. Taking down the Marcus statue, on the other hand, speaks to a major lack of historic knowledge and thoughtfulness in today’s student body. One action makes sense, the other invites mockery and the condemnation of the other alumni writing in here.

    • By “Julius” you mean Julius Caesar?

    • Ironically if Brown students read Meditations, they would actually learn to build character and a better world instead of throwing these embarrassing tantrums. Instead they’ll continue to ingest the propaganda of race baiters and grifters like Tricia Rose and Ibram Kendi. Brown’s mission has clearly changed to “preparing students to discharge the offices of life with uselessness and disreputation”.

    • This is not a statue for Julius Caesar! Educate yourself before expressing your opinion!

    • “who ruled through cruelty and against established law.” Are you suggesting that there was no precedent for Dictators in the Republic? I also seem to recall that IC was very popular with the plebs. As for MA, yes he put a curb on expansion, consolidated, wrote his book – which I try and dip into once or twice a week – but he was still a Roman Emperor, the head of an empire which relied on slaves.

  5. Bruce Schaller says:

    It would be interesting to see the interviews.

    I don’t find these to be an offensive statues. I have a hard time believing that a great many people would. Even a few people likely needed to do some soul searching to see why this could be considered inappropriate. 9 months of research is quite a soul search. I mean, that’s almost as long as it takes to have a kid!

    Instead of taking this down, why not add statues to better represent other cultural groups? Or would that be considered flaunting that we are inclusive? Plenty of space on the quad, no?

    The Roman/European standard of beauty doesn’t take away from other cultural considerations of beauty. And the concept of beauty changes in societies over time, and it is interesting to understand how that happens. If we remove the examples, then much of the context that permits comparison disappears. Comparison is the basis of sound judgement- not just about people, but of history.

    What if… There was a statue of a woman with feet bound in the traditional chinese style? That is a concept of beauty which is non eurocentric. Take it as far as you like. Cultural sculpture garden. I dunno sounds fun.

  6. If you can’t build anything, then I suppose destroying is the next best thing.


    “Inclusion” is an Orwellian term at this point.

  7. Disgusting. Leave the statues alone. We cannot change history, good or bad. Remviing a statue of a dead person will not change history or peoples attitudes.

  8. refugee fr vietnam says:

    snow flakes melting on the hot side walk. this is not a haiku; but then again you are not a real snow flake.

    wtf; go get a bubble milk tea and stop the virtual signaling

  9. Is the same ” Brown University ” that two of professors are members of the” National Association of Scholars “?
    Glenn Loury and Gordon Wood are two of twenty
    ” signatories ” that want to ” recind” the 2020 Pulitzer Prize for Commentary for the 1619 Project. These are the same scholars who interpret American history through a limited prism with a blind eye. The 1619 Project brings to light a historical prospective through the eyes, heart and soul/Spirit of Black enslaved People of Color. Yes, it is controversial. However, for centuries the hidden truths of American history have deteriorated the contributiions to America.

    • The original article above has nothing to do with Gordon Wood, Glenn Loury, the 1619 Project or the Pulitzer Prize. However, please go ahead and enlighten us as to what those “hidden truths of American history” might be and how they “have deteriorated the contributions to America”. Also, what does that even mean? How do hidden truths deteriorate contributions?

  10. Hello,

    I`m new here and wanted to say hi to all 🙂


  11. Enough is enough! Do we have to apply the same idiotic notion that we have to clean up history to all civilizations? We can find negative history all around us. Does that mean we need to tear down statues? Learn to live with reality instead of trying to remove it.,

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