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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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Student leaders take action on DACA, Matthew Gaines statue

Photo by Photo by Meredith Seaver

Off-Campus Residence Senator Gentill Abdulla presented the Matthew Gaines Statue Bill proposing a statue be constructed on campus for the former member of the Texas Senate. 

Both the Graduate and Professional Student Council (GPSC) and the Student Government Association (SGA) passed resolutions Tuesday and Wednesday night respectively to encourage the state legislature to support undocumented students included in the recently-rescinded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
On Sept. 5, 2017, Attorney General Jeff Sessions under President Trump’s administration announced the end of DACA, which allowed roughly 800,000 residents who entered the country illegally as minors to receive a renewable two-year period of deferred action from deportation. Unless a bill providing similar protections is passed, DACA recipients will lose their protected status when their period of deferred action expires. The GPSC passed a resolution encouraging Texas legislators to support one such bill, the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act (DREAM) Act, which supports a path to legal citizenship for undocumented childhood arrivals.
“GPSC felt it was important to urge our congress members to act and provide a resolution in support of our fellow students,” External Legislative Affairs Committee Chair Brenna Lin said. “We just want to create a positive atmosphere for students and let them know that we support them and that their success is something we all hope for.”
SGA passed a similar resolution, called the Dreamers Resolution, proposed by Senator Carlo Chunga that formally and publicly supports undocumented students at Texas A&M and encourages the state legislature to keep supporting DACA students.
“No matter where we come from, we are all Aggies,” Chunga said. “This resolution will touch the hearts of so many students on campus. As leaders of this institution, we must uphold the core values and be the voice of the student body of Texas A&M University.”
Chair Gentill Abdulla presented the Matthew Gaines Statue Bill which proposes placing a statue of former Texas Senator Matthew Gaines on A&M’s campus. Gaines was a former slave who worked his way up the Texas legislature to become a prominent Senator in 1869, and was then involved in establishing Texas A&M under the Morrill Land Grant Act.
“The fact that this campus is here is directly related to this man,” Abdulla said. “He is a vital part of our campus, why we are here and what our history is.”
Activists on campus have already tried to place this statue on campus in 1998, but the project was abandoned amidst the collapse of Bonfire in 1999. The current bill was sent to the Constituency Affairs Committee, but if passed, a statue of Gaines could be placed near Rudder Tower and the future Student Services Building. The statue would be erected in 2020 around the time of the completion of the Student Services Building.
“It’s a conversation that needs to happen,” Abdulla said. “We talk about our history, and this one person can act as a gateway and a symbol to rally around.”
If Student Senate passes the bill, Speaker of Student Senate Jasmine Wang and Student Body President Bobby Brooks will meet with Vice President for Student Affairs Daniel Pugh to bring the bill to President Michael Young and eventually place the statue on campus.
A resolution to recognize first responders emergency managers, elected officials and friends and neighbors during Hurricane Harvey and a bill to help online sexual assault reporting be more efficient and keep the reporter anonymous were also passed unanimously. Student Senate will meet again Nov. 1.

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  • Senator for the College of Architecture Carlo Chunga proposed the Dreamers Resolution in open session during the October 18th meeting of the Student Senate.

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