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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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Grad students, provost discuss university involvement and social issues

Paul+Teale%2C+Karan+Watson%2C+and+Adam+Hair+hosted+the+last+Town+Hall+to+field+questions+from+graduate+students.
Photo by By Chevall Pryce

Paul Teale, Karan Watson, and Adam Hair hosted the last Town Hall to field questions from graduate students.

Graduate students had the opportunity to ask university provost Karan Watson questions concerning everything from university finances and budgeting to racial representation through campus structures during the latest Town Hall meeting.

Watson participated in a Q&A panel in Rudder Forum, with executive members of the Graduate and Professional Student Council acting as hosts for the event. Shared governance, funding of the graduate program and ways graduate students could streamline expressing their concerns to administration.

A student asked Watson why the university doesn’t support shared governance with the graduate students. After explaining how shared governance isn’t as simple as students think it is, Watson expressed that one of the main concerns the university has with increasing the amount of students that attend Texas A&M is maintaining the reputation of the school’s education, as well as why so many students are being admitted.

“All of this time while we have grown and grown, all of this time we’ve had to make sure that the quality of what we’re doing has not diminished,” Watson said. “Some people may say, ‘If it’s not coming out economically to your advantage, why would you do it?’ Two reasons: Money is money…the other reason is that the state had a program that said we need to add over 15 years three schools the size of UT and Texas A&M.”

The 25 by 25 plan, which plans to bring 25,000 engineering students to Texas A&M by 2025, was also clarified by Watson. According to Watson, the plan is moreso focused on retention of engineering students than adding more students to the program.

“The 25 by 25 plan just got more PR because it was big and because the chancellor loved it,” Watson said. “The truth is we held off the board just telling us to grow the freshman class by 3,000 because we thought that wasn’t a strategic thing to do.”

Watson said administration asked each college where it would be the smartest for them to grow. For some it was the graduate programs or the undergraduate program, but for the most part the colleges said they didn’t get enough incentive for growth. Basically, the units that teach more students, not the department that the students belong to, get more funding to help with the extra load.

One student asked about the state of the statue of Matthew Gaines, former slave and Texas State Republican senator that voted in favor of public education in Texas. In the past, members of the community have requested a statue of Gaines on the Texas A&M campus.

Watson said the idea of a statue has more politics than students know behind it, citing that a statue for Reveille and Secretary of Energy Rick Perry have been requested more than one for Gaines. Watson said an alternate space for the many contributors to Texas A&M’s history would be just as respectful for Gaines.

“We have not done enough to recognize that there have been some historically very important people, whose ethnicity and race would surprise many people, who have helped this university be great, and we haven’t recognized them yet,” Watson said. “I do think it may not be in the form of a statue.”

Watson said a plaza, based on modern technology and capabilities, dedicated to overlooked figures in Texas A&M’s history, as well as fellowships and scholarships, are long overdue.

Watson also mentioned Texas A&M’s involvement with other organizations in advocating for social rights, using those platforms so the university and its students aren’t targeted for acting alone.

Paul Teale, president of GPSC and PhD student, said Watson cleared up rumors surrounding the university.

“A lot of the answers really fleshed out information,” Teale said. “ It helped clear up a lot of the unknown to a lot of graduate students.”

Chris Nygren, executive vice president of GPSC, said the talk got students with busy schedules to participate.
“One thing that many student organizations struggle with, including SGA and other undergraduate groups, is getting information out to students,” Nygren said. “Where else would you get the opportunity to ask Dr. Watson or President Young questions in this way?”

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  • GPSC president Paul Teale and Karan Watson handled questions from the audience at the latest Town Hall

  • Adam Hair and Chris Nygren supplied prewritten questions from graduate students.

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