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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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ADL names Aggies United top inspirational moment of 2016

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The Anti-Defamation League associate director says Aggies United fought “bad speech with good speech.”

The Anti-Defamation League recently released its top-10 inspirational moments of 2016, and the Aggies United event placed first, among Orlando’s response to the Pulse nightclub shooting and the refugees who competed in the 2016 Rio Olympics.
On Dec. 6 Richard Spencer, member of the “alt-right” movement, a national white supremacy group, spoke in the MSC, while a counter-program called Aggies United took place in Kyle Field attended by President Michael Young, Student Body President Hannah Wimberly, multiple celebrities, philanthropists and musical artists.
Each ADL regional office submitted an inspirational moment for consideration, and a group of ADL professionals across the United States voted on the top 10.
“We submitted [Aggies United] because it was pretty inspirational to see how students took the reigns and planned an answer to what was going on,” said ADL associate director Dena Marks. “One of the things ADL promotes is you fight bad speech with good speech, and that’s exactly what they did.”
Wimberly said she was pleased to see the Aggies United event garner attention even a month after it occurred.
“I think it’s really awesome that that speaker obviously got media attention but the beautiful, positive Aggies United event got just as much, if not more,” Wimberly said. “That really shows that people are committed to telling the world that Aggies are united, and we don’t stand for these kinds of things.”
MSC President Brian O’Hara said the ADL’s announcement is not only recognition for current students who participated in the event, but also sets a precedent for future students.
“For the Anti-Defamation League to say we did a good job in combating speech that is filled with hatred and bigotry was a great honor,” O’Hara said. “That’s definitely one thing that shows our commitment to our incoming students and the ones that are currently here that we are committed to finding what is right.”
When students, faculty and community members first learned of Spencer coming to speak on campus, many demanded the university cancel the event. However, Young said the Aggies United event was the right response and is proud of its recognition.
“I think more and more people came around to the idea that, ‘Yes, we really did have to let [the speech] proceed,’ but we responded in exactly the right way,” Young said. “I am so proud of our students, our faculty, our staff for joining together that way to let the whole world know the good for which we stand, for the inclusion, the togetherness, the love that reflects this university.”
Young said Aggies United was a different, yet proper, response to Spencer’s rhetoric that upholds A&M’s traditions.
“[Aggies United] represented, not a response that was simply saying that we stand for something other than what you stand for, but rather we were saying, ‘This is what we believe. This is who we are. This is what we stand for,’ in an affirmative way,” Young said. “I think doing the right thing, standing together for what is good and right is what Aggies in our 140-year history are doing.”

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