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UCS discusses Decolonization at Brown statue removal initiative

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

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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