Months after Columbus Day, the University of Maryland SGA will discuss a resolution urging this university’s administration to acknowledge the holiday as Native American Day or Indigenous Peoples’ Day.
At its first meeting of the spring semester Wednesday night, the Student Government Association approved several items to discuss and vote on in the coming weeks, including the resolution to change Columbus Day’s name.
“It’s important to make more of an inclusive space and take the time to recognize the great achievements the American Indian population has contributed to our country,” said Ja’Nya Banks, SGA’s diversity and inclusion director.
The Graduate Student Government passed a similar resolution in November after the American Indian Student Union began a petition to change the holiday’s name on the university calendar. Researching similar legislation from other universities and drafting the bill was why it took the group a few months to get the resolution, Banks said.
Banks, a junior special education major, said she is skeptical the administration will follow the request immediately if the resolution passes next week, but she remains hopeful that if the SGA and other campus groups are persistent in asking for the change, the administration will listen.
Tese Inegbenebor, a Leonardtown representative and a member of the Diversity and Inclusion committee, as well as the sponsor of the resolution, said she is optimistic about the administration’s response to the resolution.
“If we focus on making sure all students are included in the university and making them feel safe and at home here, then there shouldn’t be a problem as to why [the administration] shouldn’t take it into consideration,” the sophomore accounting and operations management and business analytics major said.
The SGA will also vote in two weeks on an act to fund the Student Affairs committee’s Free Feminine Hygiene Products Campaign, a program aimed to provide free pads and tampons in some bathrooms on the campus.
If passed, the program will operate on a trial basis for two months, during which pads and tampons will be dispensed in only some bathrooms in Stamp Student Union, according to the bill. The committee will see how many products are used, as well as how and if the program can be extended to other campus bathrooms.
While the program presents some potential logistic issues, such as getting data on how many people use these products, Student Affairs Vice President A.J. Pruitt said he is confident the bill will pass.
“This is sort of a common sense bill that helps students,” the junior economics and government and politics major said.
SGA President Katherine Swanson said she is excited for the program to begin.
“It’s a big step forward,” the senior government and politics major said. “We’re showing people that we will go to great lengths to make everyone on our campus feel comfortable.”
The SGA also unanimously passed a resolution supporting the Textbook Cost Savings Act, a bill sponsored by State Sen. Jim Rosapepe (D-Prince George’s and Anne Arundel). The resolution would provide a $100,000 grant to the University System of Maryland’s Kirwan Center to fund the Maryland Open Source Textbook Initiative, which aims to make it easier for faculty to use open-source textbooks.
The bill will appear in the Maryland Senate in Annapolis on Feb. 8.