TAMU students demand mandatory ‘anti-racism’ course

A group of student activists at Texas A&M University is demanding that the school incorporate a mandatory anti-racism class into the core curriculum.

What’s more, the group of students, known as “TAMU Anti-Racism” is also demanding that the university implement penalties for any sort of racist behavior.

“We have three main pillars we want to see accomplished,” student member Emilio Bernal told The Battalion. “We want this mandatory class, more minority students and faculty on campus, and for there to be penalties for racist behavior on campus.”

The group has staged several protests on campus in an effort to raise awareness of the issue, and has even met with the university’s president on multiple occasions to discuss its demands.

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During one protest, student activists had their peers fill out sheets of paper detailing any racist encounters they have experienced on campus, which were then stuffed into a piñata resembling republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.

“The purpose of this event is to remind students of the work that we’ve been doing on campus for the anti-racism movement, so that includes things like denouncing politicians who have kind of used racist rhetoric,” one protester, Laura Reid, explained at the time.

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The group’s primary objective, though, has been to lobby for a three-credit course on racism awareness that all students would be required to complete before graduating.

The group has indicated on its Facebook page that it is working with several university faculty members to nail down the logistics of the course, arguing that the university ought to “treat this mandatory anti-racism course just as courses are treated in the fields of engineering, business, agriculture, and in the various sciences” because “a course in anti-racism is of equal importance as are any of these courses and needs to be treated as such.”

Bernal reiterated the importance of an anti-racism course when speaking with The Battalion, saying “racial justice is just as important as mathematics, English, and science.”

The course would ultimately need to be approved by the school’s Core Curriculum Council, which is currently consulting with other universities that have similar courses in search of direction.

If approved, the course could be introduced as early as next semester, but the group has yet to solidify a “permanent financial commitment” from the publicly-funded institution, according to Bernal.

President Michael Young, however, seems to be on board with move, reportedly noting in a private meeting with the group that its demands will be incorporated into the core curriculum in some way, but without mentioning any specifics.

Notably, Young released a public letter Tuesday, just a short time after TAMU Anti-Racism held a protest on campus, outlining in fairly explicit terms the school’s commitment to freedom of expression.

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“Engaging and embracing diversity enables us to better meet the challenges and find the opportunities that our society and world present,” he wrote, without directly mentioning the protest group or its demands. “At Texas A&M, we are neither fearful of this, nor do we apologize for it. Instead, we infuse our marketplace of ideas with a culture of welcome and respect for all.”

To help students understand the principles underlying the First Amendment, Young cites two documents outlining the school’s position on free speech—a White Paper on Freedom of Speech and TAMU’s Expressive Activities policy—as well as a University Diversity Plan addressing efforts to promote a “welcoming campus climate” within that context.

Campus Reform reached out to the school for a more explicit statement on the matter and is currently awaiting a response.

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @AGockowski