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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Texas A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp attends the Class of 1972 50-year reunion in Kyle Field on April 20, 2022.
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The BattalionMay 4, 2024

Making every voice heard

Student+organizations+including+La+Familia+and+RepresentAsian+are+working+to+increase+representation+of+minorities+in+student+government+at+Texas+A%26amp%3BM.
Provided

Student organizations including La Familia and RepresentAsian are working to increase representation of minorities in student government at Texas A&M.

After seeing the historic underrepresentation of minority students in student government, several student organizations were created to support and promote minority students running for Student Senate.
La Familia and RepresentAsian were created to increase the representation of minorities in student leadership positions on Texas A&M’s campus by giving them a network and platform to increase their chances of success. They hope to ensure A&M’s Student Senate accurately represents the university’s growing diversity in order to advocate for university policies that benefit the entire student body.
External Affairs Associate for La Familia Alexia Hernandez said the purpose of the La Familia initiative under the Hispanic Presidents’ Council is to increase the representation of Hispanic and Latinx senators in A&M’s Student Senate through coordinated campaigning.
“Our goal is to ensure that the Student Senate consists of accurate representation of the ever-growing communities on campus in order to advocate for university policies that benefit the student body as a whole,” Hernandez said.
Founded in 2018, Hernandez said the program has helped many Hispanic and Latinx students achieve their goal of becoming student senators.
“The vast majority of our candidates have had major success in the program and were able to be elected to the Student Senate, candidates who may have otherwise not had the support, guidance or resources to campaign by themselves,” Hernandez said. “Our La Familia alumni have gone on to achieve significant accomplishments in the Student Senate, holding chair positions, crafting important pieces of legislation and speaking to administration directly about pressing issues that affect students every day.”
Though diversity can often be seen as a buzzword thrown around with no intention of achievement, Hernandez said, La Familia is taking real, impactful steps to bring diverse people and opinions to campus.
“I believe diversity and inclusion begin with electing diverse people to leadership positions, which brings many different perspectives, backgrounds and experiences to the table that have historically been unheard or disregarded,” Hernandez said. “Depending on the issue, the Student Senate often has a heavy influence on how administration weighs in on university policy, and it’s important that we have representatives who can advocate for implementing policies that benefit every Aggie.”
Director of Civic Engagement for Asian Presidents’ Council Megha Viswanath said she started RepresentAsian in the fall of 2020 after personally witnessing the lack of Asian American representation within student government.
“I was one of only four Asian American senators during the spring 2020 elections and the only Asian woman elected,” Viswanath said. “I realized the incredible lack of Asian American representation within student government itself as I navigated both the executive side as part of the SGA Diversity Commission and then the legislative side as part of the [Student] Senate.”
Since Asian American Pacific Islander Desi American, or APIDA, students make up 8.8 percent of the student body, Viswanath said the representation in Student Senate is disproportionate.
“Asian Aggies have backgrounds from South Asia, South East Asia and East Asia and each comes with a unique experience, perspectives and issues that they need to be addressed,” Viswanath said. “With only four Asian American student senators last election, how can all of these identities and problems be heard and appropriately understood and addressed?”
Viswanath said her intention in creating RepresentAsian was to give Asian American students a large platform to campaign on, resources to better understand and navigate student government and a network to connect with and better serve Asian American students.
“Currently, we operate as a cohort-based program taking applicants every semester, and accepted students serve as a RepresentAsian candidate and mentee one semester and a program ambassador and mentor the next semester,” Viswanath said. “I hope this program will encourage more Asian American students to get involved with student government and remove some of the stigma and fear that organizations and environments like this are not meant for us.”
With an ever-growing student body of individuals with intersecting identities, Viswanath said there is still a large gap between the demographics reflected in the decision-making process of SGA and the Aggies who make up A&M.
“Programs like RepresentAsian and La Familia take that first step to help decrease the gap by empowering more diverse candidates to run and become a part of that important decision making process,” Viswanath said. “As our school grows and changes, we need more diverse faces and voices who have first hand knowledge and experience with the issues in our communities to have a seat at the table and make sure our problems are addressed and taken seriously.”

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