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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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Students protest lack of undergraduate input at administrative level

Photo by Photo by Kyle McClenagan

Approximately 20 students gathered to protest the influence of The Rudder Association, the removal of diversity from Fish Camp’s Core Values, resistance regarding Draggieland and the independence of The Battalion. 

Students braced heavy winds as they marched on campus to protest recent university administrative decisions.
On Wednesday, March 23 at 1:30 p.m., just over 20 student protesters gathered at Century Square to begin their march to the Jack K. Williams Administration Building in what would eventually become a silent sit-in demonstration against university administrators. Among the protesters’ chief concerns were: the influence of the former student organization The Rudder Association, or TRA, the removal of diversity from Fish Camp’s Core Values, the resistance to Draggieland and recent decisions regarding the independence of The Battalion
General studies junior and organizer Ellis Howard said they helped organize the protest to show current university leadership that student voices must be heard. 
“We want student voices at the table; we want decision making power when the administration is making decisions for us,” Howard said. “We want TRA to get out of our business, they don’t belong here, they’re former students … I’m pretty sure all of them are over 50 years old [and] they haven’t been on this campus in years.”
Howard also stressed the importance of involving student leadership whenever the university makes decisions regarding student organizations.
“Having an individual from their organization at the table whenever the administration is having a meeting about them is one of the best ways for students to be heard,” Howard said. 
One of the protesters’ other demands regarded the Lawrence Sullivan Ross statue on campus, Howard said. 
“Also pushing for the removal of the Sullivan Ross statue from the Academic Plaza and taking that to the Texas Legislature as they have the power to remove it,” Howard said. 
Jyothis James, a fourth-year philosophy Ph.D. student, said he has been directly affected by administrative overreach.
“Texas A&M brought me in as their diverse monkey so that they can claim, ‘look at this,’” James said. “I know one of the reasons they picked me is because I’m South Asian, I’m a safe one, [and] I’m also gay, you can check off boxes.”
James said he fears that university backlash might impede on his ability to receive grant money, which he and many other Ph.D. students live on. 
“I can’t afford to live,” James said. “Knowing that the type of research that I’m doing and the climate on campus ever since the counter-protest [for] Sully Ross, I’m afraid of declaring that I’m working on critical race and semantic formalism because of the push back I could get.”  
Haley Burke, a third-year philosophy Ph.D. student, said she attended the protest to support her friends who are feeling the stress of the university administration on their shoulders.
“I think a lot of students that are LGBTQA+ feel discriminated against by the administration by their lack of support of Draggieland and other such events on campus,” Burke said.
The university needs to hear our message, Burke said.
“I think the best outcome of today would be the administration to see that we do have solidarity and we do have friendship and we seek respect,” Burke said.
Associate Vice President for Marketing & Communications Kelly Brown said in a comment to The Battalion that the protestors voices were heard today, and the university always encourages students to express their voices. 
Texas A&M welcomes individuals and groups who want to exercise their rights to free speech and freedom of expression,” Brown said. “Allowing different voices to be heard on various issues is part of the college experience — whether that’s through a peaceful protest or rally, talking to administrators or other lawful methods.”
Industrial distribution sophomore Nate Wilson, who passed the protest on his way to class, said he didn’t really understand their message.
“I’m confused as far as the purpose of it,” Wilson said. “Knowing that The Rudder Association is perpetuating the Aggie Spirit and the Aggie culture.” 
However, after talking with one of the protesters, Wilson said he agreed that The Battalion should remain independent.
“When it comes to stuff like The Battalion, where it’s a student-led thing and [university administration] says, ‘Hey you can’t do that,’ I feel like that’s crossing the line a little bit.” 
Whatever the outcome, James said he just wants student voices to be taken seriously.
“I don’t care if it’s conservative, I don’t care if it is liberal, but the students should be able to have their voice,” James said. 

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  • Approximately 20 students gathered to protest the influence of The Rudder Association, the removal of diversity from Fish Camp’s Core Values, resistance regarding Draggieland and the independence of The Battalion. 

    Photo by Photo by Kyle McClenagan

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