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

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Texas A&M outfielder Jace Laviolette (17) reacts in the dugout after Texas A&M’s game against Tennessee at the NCAA Men’s College World Series finals at Charles Schwab Field in Omaha, Nebraska on Monday, June 24, 2024. (Hannah Harrison/The Battalion)
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June 24, 2024
Texas A&M pitcher Kaiden Wilson (30) delivers a pitch during Texas A&M’s game against Tennessee at the NCAA Men’s College World Series finals at Charles Schwab Field in Omaha, Nebraska on Saturday, June 22, 2024. (Chris Swann/The Battalion)
Winner-take-all
June 23, 2024

OPINION: Representation matters

Within hours of The Battalion reporting that Bobby Brooks will be the first openly gay student body president in A&M’s history, hundreds of people expressed their support, excitement and pride with the news. In fact, there were very few outright comments of dissension — of the 1,800 reactions the post garnered on Facebook only 20 were sad or angry.

Brooks’ story has now been shared across the state and the nation, pushing A&M into the spotlight and the national conversation once again.

Most of the discussion in the comments centered around representation, and why we decided to write a feature focusing on Brooks’ sexuality. Many people questioned why we thought it was important to highlight this aspect of who Brooks is — after all, what effect would it have on his ability to do his job?

And in some ways, they’re right — Brooks’ capability to perform his duties are not rooted in his sexuality, but in his experience, determination and will to serve the student body. Having interacted with Brooks over the course of a year now and seen his work within the MSC, I feel like Brooks will do great things for A&M.

But his sexuality does matter, too, though not in the way some may assume we wrote the article to highlight.

It matters because Texas A&M has consistently been on the Princeton Review’s list of the top 20 LGBT Unfriendly campuses for years, with 2016 being the first year since 2011 that A&M was not included.

It matters because there is an LGBT population at A&M which has long felt persecuted and unwelcome on campus, which now sees representation in the highest student leadership position on campus.

It matters beyond current students, too. There are LGBT students who are nervous to come to A&M who now may feel more secure and welcome in their decision — my Class of 2021 little sister among them.

Brooks being the first openly gay student body president is important to recognize for the same reasons it was important to acknowledge Brooke Leslie as the first female student body president in 1994 when she was elected. Or for the reason it was important to acknowledge Barack Obama as the first African American president of the United States. Brooks’ sexuality, Leslie’s gender and Obama’s race are parts of who they are, not defining factors of their ability to perform their job.

It is important to acknowledge, too, though, that while things like gender, sexuality and race do not determine our ability to do a job, it can influence the experiences leading up to that job, and our worldview. Just as being an Aggie shapes our worldview and instills in many of us a pride for our school and its traditions, so too does the experience of our gender, sexuality or race shape the way we view the world.

So no, Brooks’ ability to be an effective student body president is not determined by his sexuality. But having that kind of representation at a historically anti-LGBT university is an important step toward inclusiveness and progress at A&M — and that’s worth acknowledging.
Sam King is a communication senior and editor-in-chief for The Battalion.

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