Student Aggies protest against hate speech; calls for Texas A&M to foster more inclusive campus environment
The protest comes as former Vice President Mike Pence speaks at Rudder Auditorium
COLLEGE STATION, Texas (KBTX) -Several student-led Texas A&M organizations assembled in protest Thursday afternoon outside the Rudder Auditorium on the campus of Texas A&M University. The groups are protesting against what they call the university’s consistent platforming of speakers who perpetuate and practice hate speech.
Members of the Council for Minority Students Affairs, Latinx Community Advocacy Association, Students for a Democratic Society, and Texas Aggie Democrats are calling for the university to take accountability for what they say is ignorance and perpetuation of hate speech on campus. They also demand that university officials release an explicit statement acknowledging their inaction in allowing individuals to perpetuate hate speech on campus and show their support for marginalized communities moving forth.
This comes on the day that former Vice President Mike Pence will give a speech to more than 800 students in Rudder Auditorium. Texas A&M is the second stop on the former vice president’s nationwide campus tour. Pence is also expected to have a question and answer session with attendees.
Students say what the university considers freedom of speech is nothing more than hate disguised as free speech. They say Texas A&M allowing speakers like former Vice President Pence to come on campus sends the wrong message. They think it spreads hate.
This is dangerous to our community. It’s not an issue of free speech,” said Colby Jones, President of the Texas Aggie Democrats. “It’s a matter of public safety on our campus and making sure that everybody’s voice gets heard and not just the loudest in the room, like the former vice president.”
“I felt that it was important to showcase that we do not support Mike Pence, that we do not like the hate, and we don’t support the hate that he’s going to be spreading on our campus at Texas A&M,” said Sofia Chunga, member of the Council for Minority Student Affairs.
Students say anyone speaking on campus should be carefully vetted to ensure that the right message is being spread on campus.
“We want the university to provide a better standard for speakers that come onto our campus and speak their ideas,” said Alina Corpus, Latinx Community Advocacy Association member.
“We want the administrations to hear us and work to make the whole climate of A&M more welcoming and less hateful,” said Hannah Boyd, Students for a Democratic Society member.
Students are also calling on university leaders to Establish a reflective, democratically elected council of representatives who review ALL on-campus speakers; review student & faculty grievances regarding instances of hate speech, and review existing university guidelines and enforcement of freedom of speech codes of conduct.
In a statement, student leaders say they want Texas A&M to Implement LGBTQ-affirming policies such as the inclusion of non-binary identities in campus identification, updating of TAMU documentation in regards to gender expression, increasing the number of gender-neutral bathrooms, providing for menstrual products and sharps containers in all bathrooms, and creating a safety/buddy-system that is affirmative to queer students beyond the existing systems. Require that ICE & CBP be banned from presenting and recruiting students for employment opportunities due to the potential harm to undocumented students, thus prohibiting anti-immigrant rhetoric be presented by guest speakers. Reintroduce chalking as an acceptable method of student expression given that it promotes a diversity of ideas in a non-invasive and hospitable manner.
Students say they’re also asking that Texas A&M University call on the Texas Legislature to repeal S.B. 18, which allows for the proliferation of hate speech on college campuses in the state of Texas.
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