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UCS introduces resolution to rename CIT, discusses student governance and ethics board

Resolution seeks to remove Thomas J. Watson Sr.’s name from CIT, address concerns about Watson’s ties to Nazi Germany

By
Senior Staff Writer
Wednesday, November 11, 2020

The Undergraduate Council of Students introduced a resolution to rename the Thomas J. Watson Sr. Center for Information Technology, continued discussion of the proposed Student Governance, Ethics and Accountability Board and approved the addition of an anti-discrimination clause to the Undergraduate Finance Board’s constitution at its general body meeting Wednesday evening.

UCS President Jason Carroll ’21 and Deborah Meirowitz ’22.5, a UCS general body member, introduced the CIT resolution that intends to remove Watson’s name from the CIT because, according to the resolution, which was authored by Carroll, “Watson Senior, as president of International Business Machines (IBM), maintained deep business relationships with Nazi Germany.” The resolution is a byproduct of research Carroll has conducted into the matter during the semester, and also calls for the removal of Watson Sr.’s name from any other University “buildings, spaces, professorships, or other titles” that bear his name.

Carroll stressed that the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs is not subject to the same criticism despite its similar name, as it is named after Watson Sr.’s son, Thomas J. Watson Jr. ’37.

“IBM owned a German subsidiary called Dehomag, which leased (tabulating) machines and technology to Nazi Germany” for the purpose of identifying “undesirables” during census counts, as well as managing the day-to-day operations of concentration camps and Nazi military facilities, Carroll said.

In 1937, Chancellor of Nazi Germany Adolf Hitler presented Watson Sr. with the Merit Cross of the German Eagle with a star, which was awarded to foreign citizens who “made themselves deserving of” the German Reich, Carroll continued.

The resolution will be voted on at the last general body meeting of the semester next Wednesday, Nov. 18. If passed, the Council would officially call for the removal of Watson Sr.’s name from the CIT.

Also at the meeting, Chair of Campus Life Zane Ruzicka ’23 led a discussion about the proposed Student Governance, Ethics and Accountability Board first introduced last week.

The board would handle internal Council disputes, such as the recent conflict within UCS about the applicability of a section of the Council’s bylaws — which regulates voting procedures on creating committees — to an amendment vote regarding class representatives. Members of UCS disagreed on whether the proposal to create class-year representatives required a simple or two-thirds majority vote to pass.

The Student Governance, Ethics and Accountability Board’s role would be to uphold “the values of our undergraduate community and (ensure) that these values are fostered and promoted through the shared goals of restorative justice and sound application of equity,” according to the proposed Board’s code of operations.

“There are community issues that have arisen between UCS, UFB and other groups, and we currently have an overreliance on the University administration to resolve problems like this,” Ruzicka said.

The creation of the board will not be voted on until January at the earliest, but finalizing the wording necessary for its creation is a priority so that it can be implemented as quickly as possible at the beginning of the spring semester, according to Ruzicka.

UFB Chair Akilesh Raman ’22 also proposed changes to UFB’s constitution to include an anti-discrimination clause, which is newly mandated for all student groups following a UCS vote last month. Per its internal bylaws, UFB must receive UCS approval for amendments to its constitution.

Regarding the placement of the clause, “Article 5 of our constitution is the spot where we talk about roles for each member, what the chair does, what the vice chair does and things like that, so we thought adding this there would make sense,” Raman said.

The Council voted on the amendment via Google Forms after the meeting.

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  1. A close reading of the sources linked to in the article points to the not unreasonable conclusion that the relationship amongst IBM, the Elder Watson and the Nazi regime did not necessarily rise to the level of “deep business relationships with Nazi Germany”

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