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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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Student Senate expresses support for LGBT community and gender-inclusive bathrooms

Senators+pray+at+the+beginning+of+the+meeting.
Photo by Photo by Edith Anthony

Senators pray at the beginning of the meeting.

The Student Senate was packed Wednesday night with those supporting the Gender-Inclusive Bathroom Resolution and the Support for the LGBT Community and the GLBT Center at Texas A&M Resolution, which both passed the Senate.

The LGBT support resolution acknowledged the work of past Aggies in paving the way for future LGBT Aggies, and expressed support for LGBT students and the GLBT Resource Center. The resolution passed by a vote of 39-7, with three abstentions.

Off-Campus senator and resolution author Zach Huebschman was hopeful that this Resolution would be an encouraging sign for the LGBT community.
“I think that the most important aspect of this resolution is the fact that, for once, it sheds a positive light on the LGBT community,” Huebschman said. “This is a change of light. They can come here to support something instead of being against something. And that is what this is all about.”
Chad Mandala, program coordinator for the GLBT Resource Center, urged the Student Senate to ensure that all students felt included on campus.
“When we talk about Texas A&M, the overwhelming image we put forth is family,” said Mandala. “And if you’re talking about folks who have been consistently left out of what it means to be a part of that family, this is the opportunity to set the record correct.”
Senators who are not part of the LGBT community expressed the responsibility they felt to support the community and resource center.
“In a position of privilege, it is important to lift up those who don’t exercise the same benefits as you,” said Liberal Arts Senator Regan Thompson. “We have to understand that there are people in our community fighting for their lives and safety.”
There was a concern from Senator Olivia Krog, Off-Campus Caucus, and Senator Virginia Krog, Mays Business School Caucus, that this resolution could infringe on religious liberties.
“One of the most important liberties we have, as Texans and as Aggies and Americans, is our religious liberty,” Olivia Krog said.
The majority of the Senate disagreed. Ashali Chimata, Student Services Chair, said “If you vote against this, you’re on the wrong side of history.”
The Gender-Inclusive Bathroom Resolution called for the administration to continue to take steps toward providing gender-inclusive bathrooms on campus, and to create policy to allow departments to redesignate extra restrooms in buildings as gender-inclusive. The resolution passed by a vote of 35-7, with three abstentions.
“I want you to think about what your day-to-day experience as a student would be if you didn’t have anywhere to go to the bathroom,” Mandala said. “If I were to ask you to use only uni-sex restrooms for a week, how different would your student experience look, because there is no bathroom in this building you can use.”
Huebschman, the resolution’s author, expressed his determination for the inclusion of all Aggies.
“This community will not be silenced by fear and doubt,” Huebschman said.
Before the debate on Huebschman’s resolutions, the Senate unanimously passed a resolution recognizing Veterans Day, which read, “Texas A&M Student Senate thanks and fully supports veterans from around the globe.”
In addition, the Senate passed the Constituency Affairs Absence Reform Act, which allows senators one unexcused absence from Senate meetings.
The Senate also passed the FY20 SAFAB Recommendation Resolution, which supports the fiscal recommendations made by Student Affairs Fee Advisory Board, and the Incoming Credit Transfer Resolution, which supports the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board’s assessment of incoming dual credit students.
The Coordinating Board recommended that the university restructure Core Curriculum to direct students toward classes that count for their degrees, provide clear course requirements and require dual credit students to file a degree plan at 30 credit hours.
Timothy Scott, director for the Office of Student Success, presented his office’s Student Success Initiative, which seeks to decrease dropout rates at A&M. He noted that first generation students tend to drop out of A&M in higher numbers, as do males, racial and ethnic minorities and students from a lower socioeconomic status. The plan includes more consistent advising, a graduation help desk and additional resources for students at risk of dropping out.
“We are all Aggies,” Scott said. “We may not all look alike, we may not all have the same background, we not may all have the same identity, but when we think about building a community and why this is such a great place to study, it ought to be welcoming to everyone, and everybody ought to feel like they can succeed here.”
Computer Science junior Hunter Martin was confirmed as an ex-officio officer as the director of records.

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