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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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New group demands action from University

Photo by Photo by: Alexis Will

Karen Galvan, a member of TAMU Anti- Racism, makes posters before her group’s protest in Academic Plaza Friday.

A new group will take to Academic Plaza Friday with demands for A&M administration after what they feel have been “Disneyland-like promises” from the university following the Feb. 9 racial incident.
Evoking the date that visiting high schoolers were reportedly accosted with racial slurs on campus, the group TAMU Anti-Racism has organized a protest titled “February 9 is Everyday,” to communicate two demands of the university: that it make a racial-justice course part of the Aggie core curriculum and that it make the new “Community of Respect” seminar — a cross-cultural development program that will be taught at the 2016 New Student Conferences — mandatory for all current students.
Emilio Bernal, member of TAMU Anti-Racism and sociology junior, said the group recognizes that in order to make institutional changes, they need to pressure administration.
“We gathered on Feb. 9 that Texas A&M is obsessed with image maintenance. Any small spec of dust on the mantle of Texas A&M  is a problem,” Bernal said. “We have realized that we need to have a public display of what racism feels like at Texas A&M, we need to raise alarm … They need to know that they will be held accountable for their decisions or lack of decisions.”
The administrative response to the Feb. 9 incident came from a campus-wide email sent by Texas A&M University President Michael Young.
In a March 2 email, Young outlined plans to increase diversity on campus and eliminate racist acts. His plans included introducing the mandatory “Community of Respect” seminars during the New Student Conferences, moving the “STOPHATE” desktop website to a mobile platform and creating permanent funding for the Aggies to Aggies Diversity Peer Education Program, among other items. 
“I am engaging university and community leaders, including faculty administrators, staff and students, in a ‘call to action’ to review current initiatives and measures and to propose new ones, in areas such as recruitment, retention, climate assessment and course and curricular change,” Young said in the email. 
To TAMU Anti-Racism, the email was not indicative of any serious change. Bernal said it’s important to have this protest, because the institution of Texas A&M University won’t change without prodding. 
“Historically, for any institution to change or to improve, to talk about race as it is and racism as it is, it’s always required some sort of protest,” Bernal said. “It’s always required for those who are oppressed and facing racism to speak out against it.”  
Margarita Zollo, member of TAMU Anti-Racism and environmental design freshman, said the protest aims to make the Aggie core curriculum something that reflects A&M’s rhetoric about trying to stop incidents like the one on Feb. 9 from happening. 
“Some people come from certain places where behavior like the things that happened on February 9 are accepted, and unless we actually engage into why people like that are comfortable with saying things like that and acting that way, then we’ll never fully enact full change,” Zollo said. “Sitting for an hour isn’t going to change anyone’s mind on how to treat other people in the long term, so having a core curriculum, a required course is something that sustains that change and keeps the university and faculty accountable for what they promised.”
Christelle Tambwe, member of TAMU Anti-Racism and women and gender studies junior, said she expects respectful dialogue between the protesters and students who may not agree with what they want the university to implement at the protest. 
“I hope that we are able to highlight an issue that minorities face on this campus,” Tambwe said. 
Bernal said his organization’s objective in goes beyond this protest and is to hold A&M accountable.
“We as TAMU Anti-Racism see ourselves as active agents,” Bernal said. “After the protest, we are holding accountable Texas A&M for the Disneyland-like promises they’ve made through their emails. We see ourselves growing and working  with other organizations. We will have a voice here on campus.”

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