Proposal for Indigenous Land Acknowledgement Passes in USG Senate



The Diversity Action Coalition (DAC) has been working to ensure that the Lenni-Lenape and Wappinger Peoples are recognized as the inhabitants Fordham University rests on. (Mackenzie Cranna/ The Fordham Ram)

The United Student Government (USG) passed a proposal from the Diversity Action Coalition (DAC) for the recognition of Indigenous Peoples Day by Fordham’s calendar and implementation of an Indigenous Peoples land acknowledgment. 

Teresa Jacob, FCRH ’23, a USG senator and DAC subcommittee head, said the proposal talks about DAC’s work towards having Fordham officially recognize Indigenous Peoples Day instead of Columbus Day within the academic calendar. 

Jacob also said that DAC ultimately wants a land acknowledgment to be read at certain events such as Commencement and the freshman candle lighting ceremony. She said it is especially important for incoming students to hear first hand the history of the land Fordham is on and the ongoing relations we have with it.

“We, the members of the United Student Government at Rose Hill, through this proposal, express our support for the adoption of a university-wide Land Acknowledgement statement in recognition of the Indigenous Peoples as the original inhabitants of the Lenni-Lenape and Wappinger land that Fordham University resides on,” read the proposal. 

The proposal also included a statement from Vivianna Vera, FCRH ’22, cultural programming coordinator (CPC) for the Office of Multicultural Affairs’ Native American History Month Committee. Her statement advocates for and supports efforts and work towards this proposal. 

“One of the first steps any institution can make towards betterment for Indigenous Peoples is acknowledgment,” read Vera’s statement. 

Jacob said the proposal outlines the work DAC has done so far to propose these changes. She said DAC is hoping to get started on the long-term outreach necessary to get these changes implemented. 

Jacob said this proposal was inspired by a resolution for Fordham to formally recognize Indigenous Peoples Day, completed by Senator Carsyn Fischer, FCRH ’21. Jacob said this pushed her to do a formal proposal for the Land Acknowledgement.  

Jacob and Chair of DAC Arianna Chen, FCRH ’22, talked about this proposal with each other and with the Native and Indigenous Peoples History Month Committee, according to Jacob. 

“It’s not like a quick rushed thing that I’ve been working on under DAC, it’s more of a long-term project, but it probably took about a month to formally compose the proposal itself,” said Jacob. 

She said having the proposal passed by USG is big for DAC. Jacob said having USG’s stamp of approval is favorable in the administration’s eyes and is the first big step towards implementing the changes. Chen reiterated Jacob’s sentiment, adding that it shows the proposal is supported by the student body and not just a few students. 

“It’s significant that it was passed through USG because obviously USG is the student government on campus and so when we pass things, we use language like ‘we the students’ and ‘we as representatives of the student body,’ and so I think that when we show administrators this, it’s not just a group of students want this, it’s like, we the Fordham community want to see a land acknowledgment integrated into our Fordham experience, and we want to see more provisions for indigenous representation at our university,” said Chen. 

Jacob said the next steps in this process involve communicating with different administrators and doing outreach to see how to implement change logistically. 

Chen said DAC sends its proposals to people in student life, depending on the content of the proposal. She said they reach out to the Office of Multicultural Affairs (OMA) and the Office of the Chief Diversity Officer. She said they have also been speaking with the Faculty Senate and have received positive feedback so far about it. 

DAC developed active working relationships with OMA and the Office of the Chief Diversity officer, according to Chen. 

“I think they’re a really crucial part of any initiative we make, and we work very closely with them. They’re really supportive with everything we do both for and with diversity at Fordham,” she said. 

Jacob agreed with Chen and added that there’s also a tie between DAC and the Native American History Month Committee.

“Having those relationships is really important,” Jacob said. “The purpose of this Land Acknowledgement statement is to create more of a relationship between Fordham and the indigenous community. This statement is simply a way to advocate more for Indigenous peoples and better represent them.”