Lambda Sigma Upsilon, a Latin fraternity at the College, is attempting to have a new course introduced into the curriculum entitled, “The Truth Behind the American Holocaust.” This course would focus on the genocide that occurred during the colonization of the New World.
“One of our main goals is to promote cultural awareness,” Raul Francisco, senior international business major and president of the fraternity, said. “This makes us unique as an organization.”
Francisco said that to do this, the College must recognize “the most massive genocide in the history of the world.”
“It is generally accepted that Columbus is a hero,” Francisco said. “We even have a day that is set aside for him in the United States. However, many don’t realize the horrific things he and those who came to America did.”
“They killed people for fun, raped women and more. The truth needs to be known,” he added.
According to one of the fraternity’s fliers, Columbus introduced measures “such as enslaving Indians and hunting them down with dogs.” The flyer said that in the Caribbean, Columbus and other Spanish sailors are responsible for the loss of over 100 million lives.
“Many history classes exist that strictly deal with World War II incidents,” Francisco said. The fraternity feels that although the College provides students with various courses which explore different time periods in history, this event is neglected.
Francisco said that the idea for the course was primarily his, “but the guys have been extremely supportive,” he said.
Marco Zelaya, junior political science major, and member of Lambda Sigma Upsilon, spoke in favor of the possibility of the new course.
“I think it’s a great idea,” he said. “Ever since grade school and high school, I’ve only learned one side of the issue. We never learned about the giant atrocity behind the curtain.”
Francisco said that for many students, this is the case. “For some, this part of history never happened,” he said.
According to Francisco, the proposal for the course was introduced at the organization’s retreat in August of 2002.
Francisco said the first step the fraternity took was to contact Daniel Crofts, chairperson of the history department.
“He’s a busy guy, but he was very helpful,” Francisco said.
Crofts directed the organization to Richard Kamber, chairperson of the philosophy and religion department, to “help move the process along,” Francisco said.
The fraternity is presently waiting for Kamber to instruct them on how to proceed.
They plan to present a mock syllabus, and take other steps to prove they are serious about the adoption of the new course.
“No matter what happens, we plan to pursue this,” Francisco said.
The organization recently distributed petitions to all the Greek organizations, and Francisco said he was pleased with the response. As of last week, Francisco said, they had acquired over 500 signatures.
According to Francisco, some students signed as individuals. Many, however, signed as united groups. Organizations that returned the petitions included Phi Kappa Tau, Zeta Tau Alpha, Alpha Chi Rho, Delta Sigma Pi and Sigma Sigma Sigma.
“I haven’t heard anyone voice disagreement,” Francisco said.
“I think it is a good idea, because the class would offer students an opportunity to look at history in a way that has not been buttered up by our elementary school teachers,” Kelly Nagel, freshman accounting major, said.
Nagel added that, like other genocides in history, this element of America’s past is not covered widely enough.
“It’s like when you look up the Holocaust in a history book and you see one paragraph,” she said. “There’s no way you can justify twelve million deaths in four
Marisa Margarucci, freshman psychology major, said the new class is a good idea, but is also a bit unnerving. “It will expose some truth, but at the same time it makes me uneasy because I feel like I’ve been lied to my entire life,” she said.
In addition to giving out petitions, the fraternity has attempted to draw attention to their proposal in several other ways that Francisco feels proved more productive than “simply stuffing mailboxes.”
“On March 18, we had a table in the student center where we handed out fliers and information,” he said.
Francisco is optimistic that student and administration alike will see the significance of this issue.
“History is an important part of our lives,” Francisco added. “You can’t get where you’re going if you don’t know where you came from.”