Following years of student activism, Brown has officially launched the Critical Native American and Indigenous Studies concentration, which will see its first graduating students this spring. The concentration was part of five commitments adopted by the University in May 2022 alongside its official land acknowledgement statement. In this episode of the Bruno Brief, we learn more about the details of this story, and fill you in on other important news from the week.
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Welcome back to the Bruno Brief. I’m Tevah Gevelber, podcast producer and staff writer. On this week’s episode, we spoke with Samantha Chambers, senior staff writer, about her reporting on the new Critical Native American and Indigenous Studies concentration.
The concentration, which was originally planned to launch in fall 2020, was the culmination of over a decade of activism from students and faculty, according to Natives at Brown co-coordinator Ma’iingan Wolf Garvin, who is a member of the Ho-Chunk Nation and Bad River Ojibwe. The courses will focus on both historical and contemporary aspects of Indigenous identity including languages, politics and culture.
So, what are the basics of this story?
This story is about the new critical Native American and Indigenous Studies concentration, which got officially announced last semester. And so this is kind of a follow-up story, so we're tracking some of the thoughts and feelings that students and faculty associated with the concentration have, now that that's kind of started to be underway, and that new courses are being offered this semester. But it also sort of tracks the student advocacy side that led to this concentration even being created.
So is student activism at the core of this concentration?
Yeah, so Joseph Dupris, who is a visiting faculty member for the Native American and Indigenous Studies Initiative, he, first and foremost when I talked to him, I was like, ‘So tell me a little bit about the class that you're teaching this semester.’ And he goes, “I just want to say that this wouldn't have been possible if it weren't for student advocacy.” And throughout the interview, he kept pointing me toward, “Natives at Brown did this. I'm here because I work closely with the students,” like, essentially, “I'm here because of student advocacy.”
And what did students have to say about the importance of this new concentration?
I talked to two students who decided to concentrate in the Critical Native American and Indigenous Studies concentration, and one of them is Ma’iingan Wolf Garvin, who is a junior, and she is also a co-coordinator for natives at Brown. The other student who I talked to was Kalikoonāmaukūpuna Kalāhiki, who is a senior, and they're actually going to be part of the inaugural class graduating with the critical Native American and Indigenous Studies concentration. Something that Kaliko shared with me was just the personal value that they found in having Indigenous professors, and how it really felt like those professors were specifically engaged with their learning and with Native issues. Ma’iingan just shared a sort of similar sentiment with me, and it was less about Indigenous professors specifically, but more about having an Indigenous community. And she told me every time I walk into a class, like an Indigenous Studies class, and it just feels so much like a sense of community, and I'm extremely grateful and happy for that. So I think both of them really just expressed a lot of gratitude for sort of having that community on campus, and also being able to pursue it not only as a personal thing, but as a form of study.
Samantha, thanks so much for coming in today.
Thank you so much for having me. It was great to talk to you.
Now here is a recap of other important stories happening this week.
Brown has been ranked the ninth-best college in the nation by the U.S. News and World Report 2024 Rankings, tied with Johns Hopkins University and Northwestern University. This is the highest ranking Brown has held since 1997. Students had mixed reactions to the news, with some expressing concerns about the fixation on rankings as well as Brown’s comparatively worse performance on rankings that prioritize net-price of attendance and post-graduation salaries.
The U.S. News and World Report rankings came after the New York Times ranked Brown 230th among 286 selective colleges in the country for socioeconomic diversity. The report measured socioeconomic diversity using the proportion of first-years receiving federal Pell Grants — which are awarded to low-income students — in the 2020-21 academic year.
In other news, as a result of rising production costs and a decreased budget, Spring Weekend 2024 will be a one-day festival rather than taking place across the weekend, as is typically done in the past. This decision comes after the Undergraduate Finance Board allocated $300,000 to the Brown Concert Agency for the 2023-24 academic year, a reduction of over $250,000 from the previous school year.
Finally, on Sept. 7, the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management and the state’s Department of Health announced the first case of a mammal contracting the eastern equine encephalitis virus in 2023. Though EEE cases in humans are rare and it can only be transmitted through infected mosquito bites, the disease exhibits a high mortality rate and can lead to several neurological issues in surviving patients.
Thanks again for tuning into the second episode of this season of the Bruno Brief. This episode was produced by me, Tevah Gevelber, Jacob Smollen and Finn Kirkpatrick, edited by Adam Xu, Megan Wang and Talia Sherman and scripted by Carter Moyer. If you like what you hear, subscribe to The Bruno Brief wherever you get your podcasts and leave a review. Thanks for listening, and we'll see you next week.
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