Student Governing Associate adds indigenous land acknowledgement to meetings

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Thursday night, the Kansas State student senate passed a bill to add a land acknowledgment to be read at the beginning of meetings, following the Pledge of Allegiance.

Natalia Rodriguez, sophomore in business administration and Spanish and chair of the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee, introduced the bill. It passed unanimously through the DEI committee.

“It’s a way of acknowledging dispossession of Native lands … by allowing us to correct the stories of practices that erase indigenous peoples’ history,” Rodriguez said.

The faculty senate already has a land acknowledgment, Rodriguez said, which helped provide a framework for the writing of SGA’s.

“They are similar but different,” Rodriguez said. “They’re similar in the way that they mention that active Native nations that we have in Kansas, they mention that it’s lands from the Kaw people … We stand for the same things but at the same time we are different institutions within a bigger institution environment sense.”

Rodriguez co-authored the bill with Nathan Bothwell, speaker of student senate and senior in political science and communication, and Maggie Billman, speaker pro tempore and sophomore in secondary education.

Beyond SGA meetings, Rodriguez said the committee is interested in a broader discussions about adding land acknowledgments in classrooms and potentially commencement.

“We’re talking with different faculty. They’re really interested in adding a land acknowledgment to class syllabi,” she said. “Some classes already do that, so having the whole university might be important.”

Rodriguez said she learned a lot through the process and invited others to continue learning as well.

Student senate will reconvene at 7 p.m. Sept. 24 via Zoom. Students interested in attending may email Nathan Bothwell at ndbothwell@ksu.edu or Kelli Farris, executive director of the Center for Student Involvement, at kellifarris@ksu.edu.

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My name is Rebecca Vrbas. I’m the culture editor at the Collegian and a junior in journalism and mass communications. My hobbies include obsessing over an ever-expanding pool of musicals and cats (not the musical). I love writing because of the infinite intricacy of language, as well as its power to cultivate a sense of community through sharing experiences.