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UCS introduces resolution to name Inauguration Day a date of significance, shares updates on CIT renaming

Council also continues discussion of community norms for general body meetings

The Undergraduate Council of Students introduced a resolution calling for the University to make Inauguration Day a “no exercise date” and shared updates on their efforts to rename the Thomas J. Watson Sr. Center for Information Technology at its general body meeting Wednesday evening. The Council also continued its discussion of meeting conduct.

In response to concerns about students having to choose between Inauguration Day events and attending classes, the Council released a resolution calling for the day to be a University-recognized date of significance every four years, in accordance with the Presidential Inauguration Ceremony.

Work on the resolution began after the University held its first day of classes on Inauguration Day this year, said Chair of Campus Life and resolution co-sponsor Zane Ruzicka ’23.

“Students wanted to be able to watch Inauguration Day and hold events on Inauguration Day,” he continued. But “in order to attend, students would either have to watch it on their phone and not pay attention in class, or not come to class to begin with.”

Along with calling for the University to cancel classes and offer a paid day off to non-essential workers on Inauguration Day, the resolution also declared that UCS will not operate that day, according to the resolution text that was presented at the meeting.

Speaking about how the resolution would impact UCS, Ruzicka said that the Council “would still be able to do an event around Inauguration Day to recognize the inauguration, but we would not be able to to have a general body meeting.”

Madison Mandell ’22, co-founder of Brown Votes, a student-led initiative supported by the Swearer Center to encourage voter participation and civic engagement, shared her support for the resolution during the open commenting period of the meeting.

“As an organization, we all fully support this proposal,” Mandell said. “We believe that it's very much in line with the University's goals of promoting engagement.”

At the meeting, UCS President Jason Carroll ’21 also shared updates on the Council’s resolution to rename the Center for Information Technology. The resolution was originally brought about due to concerns surrounding Thomas J Watson Sr.’s connections to Nazi Germany through his tenure as president and CEO of International Business Machines, The Herald previously reported.

The Council is still waiting for a decision about the renaming to be made by the Advisory Committee on University Resources Management. In the meantime, Carroll said, UCS has been doing their own organizing work.

In the past week, UCS released a petition, which has amassed over 500 signatures, urging the University to rename the CIT.

The Council also hosted a lecture with Edwin Black, author of the book “IBM and the Holocaust: The Strategic Alliance Between Nazi Germany and America's Most Powerful Corporation,” Tuesday evening. Black’s book recounts the close relationship both IBM and Watson Sr. had with the Nazi regime. 

At Tuesday’s event, Carroll said that “we hope that the lecture this evening will be the beginning of a larger conversation and not the end.”

At Wednesday’s general body meeting, the Council also worked on creating an updated list of community norms to address past concerns about behavior during general body meetings.

“Given what happened last semester, there was some feedback about how there wasn’t a lot of accountability when it comes to general body meetings and who is allowed to talk and whether or not we can talk out of turn,” said UCS Secretary Samra Beyene ’22. The Council had previously discussed issues with meeting decorum and civility at its Jan. 27 general body meeting, The Herald previously reported

“What I’m hoping is that this living list sets some ground rules for organization,” Beyene said.

Some of the proposed norms include to “take space and make space” and to “debate about points, not people.”


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