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

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

The Battalion

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Student+Senate
Photo by Photo by: Morgan Engel
Student Senate

Minority students filled the Koldus Governance room to capacity and spoke before Texas A&M’s Student Senate to emphasize a point many of them said A&M’s administration simply did not understand — racial discrimination is far more than just an isolated incident on campus.

Four minority students addressed Student Senate during the open forum portion of the meeting. Much of their conversation was spent stating that the Feb. 9 reports of racial slurs directed at visiting high schoolers were not unusual. Jalyn Golden, chair of the Woodson Black Awareness Committee and wildlife and fisheries science senior, said the incident was only unique in the amount of attention it’s garnered, not in its sentiment.

“The fact that it was caught here on campus, that is the only thing that makes it different from any other experience,” Golden said.

The guest speakers stated that A&M is a racially hostile campus, and that the problem is not just a few “bad apples.”

A lot of time racism is talked about on a micro-personal level,” said Emilio Bernal, a sociology senior. “Texas A&M as an institution practices racism.”

At the end of the open forum, Speaker of the Student Senate Aaron Mitchell announced the formation of a Campus Climate Inclusion Committee. Mitchell appointed various members of Student Senate to act as committee members and said its mission will focus on minority issues on campus.

[The committee’s] mission statement will be to work with the diversity commission, research testimonials of discrimination from minority students, address any and all constituents who are concerned or offended by the campus climate, search for solutions and legislate on these issues,” Mitchell said.

During the open forum, guest speakers were asked by various senators to suggest solutions for the current state of the campus climate. Bernal said it is not the responsibility of minorities to fix the problem of racism.

“Often times whenever students of color claim feelings, it’s placed on us,” Bernal said. “The burden to solve the problems that you guys have been maintaining and not addressing. There’s an infinite number of things you can do — don’t ask me how to fix your problem.”

Other minority students spoke to their personal beliefs about the campus climate. Golden said she does not feel like she is part of the same Aggie family that many claimed as proof of racism not being a problem on campus.

“This Texas A&M campus is not my support system,” Golden said. “I have found my support system in other areas on campus that I have to find and seek.”

In an interview with The Battalion after the Student Senate meeting, Bernal said the fact that the university refers to the racist act two weeks ago as an “incident” implies the administration believes Feb. 9 was an isolated occasion, and not one of many.

“The administration, TAMU officials labeled it as an ‘incident,’” Bernal said. “‘Incident’ implies occasional, it implies the defense of ‘A few bad apples’ mentality. The thing is, the ‘incident’ is really an everyday living reality, social reality for many students of color on campus. These ‘incidents’ happen everyday.”

 

Bernal said ultimately it’s up to those in positions of power to change the climate on campus.

 

“I can speak as much as I want, but until those who have the authority to change things do, I can’t do anything about it,” Bernal said.

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