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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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Campus resources: Identity

The+LGBTQ%2B+Pride+center%2C+Multicultural+Services%2C+Veteran+Resources+%26amp%3B+Support+and+the+Womens+Resource+Center+are+just+some+of+the+student+resources+that+are+available+at+Texas+A%26amp%3BM.
Graphic by Melanie McBride

The LGBTQ+ Pride center, Multicultural Services, Veteran Resources & Support and the Women’s Resource Center are just some of the student resources that are available at Texas A&M.

Texas A&M has become an increasingly diverse institution since opening its doors to women and African Americans in 1963, and now provides a number of departments under the Division of Student Affairs providing representation, resources and community for various demographics.

Out of the dozens of offices scattered throughout campus, here are some that represent significant communities in the student body. 

Department of Multicultural Services

The Department of Multicultural Services, established in 1989, has evolved over the years with the growth of the nonwhite student population, communications coordinator Justin Ikpo said. Currently, the department is split into two areas: student engagement, and diversity, equity and inclusion education.

“When I say engagement, I mean the identity-based student organizations that serve our underrepresented students — specifically our Cultural Councils,” Ikbo said. “Right now, we’re in Hispanic Heritage Month, and that’s being overseen by the Hispanic President’s Council.”

The Black Student Alliance Council and Asian President’s Council represent the other two affinity groups, and run a number of events like their respective Heritage Months, during which the councils bring in various keynote speakers, hold debrief sessions and kickbacks for community-building and networking alike. 

The department’s Southwestern Black Student Leadership Conference is the largest conference of its kind in the nation, Ikbo said, and takes place every January in Atlanta.

“It’s usually a two-and-a-half-day conference, and hundreds and hundreds of students from across the country come to Atlanta to learn more about Black identity and leadership,” Ikbo said. 

LGBTQ+ Pride Center

For LGBTQ+ students at A&M, it may come as a surprise how large and well-established the community is in Bryan-College Station, LGBTQ+ Pride Center coordinator Francis Jackson said. The new center opened its doors during the spring of 2020 in the new Student Services Building, Room 201, and is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays for students to study and socialize, or take a breather from campus crowds.

Among the center’s resources is the Let’s Talk program, co-hosted with A&M’s Counseling & Psychological Services every Monday from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. 

“Students can come in and talk about a variety of stressors,” Jackson said. “It’s not formal counseling, but it’s a really great way to just touch base with someone. And if formal counseling is needed, the counselor can refer folks out.”

Jackson said there are also five LGBTQ+ friendly organizations available for students to get involved with, including LGBTQ Aggies, Transcend, Freshmen Leading in Acceptance, Kindness and Equality, oSTEM and MUA Ags

Women’s Resource Center

The Women’s Resource Center advises women’s student organizations, such as the American Association of University Women, and hosts a variety of recurring programs, including the AMPLIFY Women’s Mentoring Circle, the First Thursday Speaker Series and the Elect Her: Aggie Women Win conference.

“Usually we hear a lot of, ‘I wish I would’ve known this existed,’” Women’s Resource Center coordinator Taylor Tyson-Knapp said.

Hosted in collaboration with the Aggie Women Network, Tyson-Knapp said the Women’s Resource Center’s programs connect mentors with professional careers and personal accomplishments that align with a mentee student’s ambitions. Additionally, each First Thursday Speaker Series has a different topic and panel of speakers every month, some hosted in-person out at Messina Hof Winery & Resort in Bryan, and some virtually, Tyson-Knapp said.

On Oct. 17, the center will host the Elect Her conference, where workshops will offer skill-building activities such as learning how to build a campaign pitch and salary negotiation. 

“It’s targeted at helping students build the skills to run for elected office,” Tyson-Knapp said. “We have a panel of state-elected officials and university students elected to an office, like our student body president and the graduate professional student body president. I absolutely love it.” 

Don & Ellie Knauss Veteran Resource & Support Center

The Don and Ellie Knauss Veteran Resource & Support Center, or VRSC, was established in 2012 to meet the increasing needs of the population of student veterans on campus. The center offers 12 strategic programs to serve student veterans — from their university application period through graduation, to securing their first post-graduation civilian work.

Assessment, Marketing and Campus Programs coordinator Ashley Drake said A&M’s veteran enrollment has more than doubled since the opening of the center. For this growing population, Drake said supporting veterans’ physical and mental health as they transition into academic life is the center’s highest priorities.

“We have our VALOR program, which is our Veteran Aggie Leaders for Outreach and Resources,” Drake said. “And that program pairs our veterans into groups with a VALOR Peer Leader, [who] helps coach them through their first semester or two. They take them under their wing and introduce them to other fellow veterans or groups on campus that they want to be involved in.”

The VRSC also regularly surveys the needs of student veterans every several years, and Drake said they find that most often financial needs are not being met. In response, the center has established over 120 scholarship opportunities for military-affiliated students.

“A lot of student veterans only have their veteran’s benefits,” Drake said. “And not all of them even qualify for veteran’s benefits. So they’re coming out of the military, they don’t have much of an income, some of them have disability income and some do not. We try to help them get on their feet.”
 

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