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The Battalion

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The Battalion

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Student Senate to continue debate over Hindu Aggie resolution

The+Student+Government+Association+is+located+in+the+John+J.+Koldus+Building.
Photo by File

The Student Government Association is located in the John J. Koldus Building.

The Student Senate meeting on Oct. 6 included discussion on what was expected to be a non-controversial resolution. 

The resolution, concerning Hindu Aggies and the discrimination they face on campus, acknowledged hardships of students and encouraged all to make connections with Hindu Aggies. However, one part of this resolution sparked controversy.

“While the First Amendment guarantees individual freedom of religion, and one of Texas A&M Core Values is Respect, many students who practice Hinduism have faced oppression by fellow Aggies who affiliate with Christianity,” the bill reads.

The mention of Christianity caused many senators to object to the bill. One of the most memorable arguments came from Sen. John Carter Teague, an agriculture leadership and development senior and member of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences caucus.

“It’s pretty ironic that the authors of this resolution — which calls for tolerance and acceptance — chose to use it as a means to attack and demean members of the Christian community,” Teague said. “The inclusion of the word ‘Christian’ is completely unnecessary and acts only to polarize and divide students based on their beliefs.” 

Supporters of this resolution, including one of the authors of the bill, biochemistry senior Dang Dang, argue it is important to Hindu Aggies to bring out the truth of their discrimination.

“We want to condemn the students who went out of their way to [demean the religion of] other students on campus because you don’t see other religious students [do this], you don’t see Buddhists go all around and tell people to convert to Buddhism,” Dang said.

The supporters claim the entire resolution would be meaningless if the word Christian was taken out, as opponents wanted. The authors of the bill said they would not be willing to remove “Christian” from the bill.

“No, like I said, this is not an attack on Christianity, there just happen to be Christian students who have done these things,” Dang said.

This unwillingness to compromise is exactly the issue Teague said he sees with the resolution.

“It’s disappointing that I won’t be able to support some of the good ideas in the resolution because of the authors’ inability to show grace to other members of the student body,” Teague said.

Instead of trying to use the Student Senate as a forum to bring the student body together, Teague argues the resolution tries to use the Senate as a way of attacking the student body.

“[The resolution] was not written or negotiated in good faith and its purpose is to use the senate as a punitive body,” Teague said.

Proponents of the bill claim that this bill is trying to do the exact opposite. Supporters claim the resolution is trying to bring light to an issue that not many students know about and through this, bring the student body together.

“I think personally, by putting Christianity, it serves as a context and a way that we can remind students such as myself and practice Christianity that we do sit in a position of privilege,” one supporter of the resolution said during the debate.

After more than two and a half hours of debate, this issue was still unresolved.

“This debate could have all been avoided if the authors were open to even a tiny compromise to remove the word ‘Christian.’ The authors, however, refused to be open to make even this tiny change,” Teague said.

This resolution was sent down to committee and it will be brought up again at the meeting on Oct. 20.

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