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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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Students confront bias in MSC discussion

The+conversation+at+BPSA+covered+biases+of+race%2C+gender%2C+socioeconomic+status%2C+political+affiliations%2C+majors+of+study%2C+sexual+orientation%2C+religion%2C+ability%2C+nationality%2C+language%2C+body+type+and+others.
Photo by Photo by: Madeline Sambrano

The conversation at BPSA covered biases of race, gender, socioeconomic status, political affiliations, majors of study, sexual orientation, religion, ability, nationality, language, body type and others.

Across the back wall of a meeting room in Rudder Tower, a large poster with hundreds of colorful stickers marked instances of bias or discrimination felt by A&M students. These instances were the talking points among student leaders and a diverse audience during MSC Voice’s “Bias: Let’s Talk About It” Wednesday. 

The conversation covered biases of race, gender, socioeconomic status, political affiliations, majors of study, sexual orientation, religion, ability, nationality, language, body type and others. 

The student panelists included Alex Hager, a business honors junior and director of staff development of Fish Camp, Brian O’Hara, a political science junior and 2016-2017 MSC president, Sharrel Moore, a health junior and incoming vice president of the A&M chapter of NAACP and Cecille Sorio, a meteorology junior and incoming commander of the Corps of Cadets. Associate Vice President of Student Affairs C.J. Woods facilitated the discussion. 

The panelists were asked to define bias and what it meant to each of them in their respective roles. 

“People take one different identity — perhaps it’s something they can see, perhaps it’s something that they were told about somebody — and they let that be the defining characteristic of that person, whether that’s race, sexual orientation, religion,” Hager, who identifies as bisexual, said. “There’s a lot more to a person than one word or one descriptor and bias is allowing yourself to treat someone based on one descriptor rather than as a person.” 

Panelists also discussed the difference between bias and stereotypes. 

“Stereotypes is kind of like a preconceived notion that you have about a person,” Moore said. “Biases — it could be the same stereotype that you have in mind — but you have an action behind it, like ‘I can’t talk to them because they have that identity.’” 

Wood asked the panelists to discuss solutions to discrimination problems felt on campus. Moore said that students must first and foremost stop denying that these acts occur on campus. 

“As a community, we have to stop denying that it happens,” Moore said. “People say our experiences didn’t happen because they didn’t see it. Just because you didn’t see it, it doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. Stop denying minorities and people of color and GLBT people’s experiences — stop denying our experiences.”

O’Hara said while the conversation on campus right now is strong and organizations are making progress toward change, it’s important to make sure that the conversation doesn’t die over the summer. 

“We can’t let the summer months take away from the progress that we may have made in the spring semester in talking about these issues,” O’Hara said. “We need to come back in the fall and continue to have this discussion.” 

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