A group of black and Hispanic high school students visiting the campus of Texas A&M University have said they were harassed and told by white students that they were not welcome at the school.
A statement released from the office of Texas Senator Royce West says that two black female high school students were approached by a white female Texas A&M student while visiting the campus. The girl reportedly asked the visiting students if they liked her earrings, which were of a Confederate flag replica design.
A separate group of white male and female students allegedly harassed the group of 60 high school students, shouting racial slurs, using the N-word, and telling them to “go back where you came from.”
The group was visiting from Dallas’ Uplift Hampton Preparatory School as part of the school’s Road To College at Uplift Education Program.
The statement acknowledges that TAMU officials who were showing the students around the campus witnessed the incident. A campus police officer stood up for the college students, arguing that they were simply expressing their First Amendment rights. Even so, a report was written concerning the event, writes Frank Heinz for NBCDFW.
At the close of the tour, junior Jayla Alex-Johnson said the TAMU officials met with students in order to discuss the incident and to ensure they knew that such behavior was not condoned by the school.
“They were really sincere,” she explained. “And they couldn’t believe what happened, like neither of us could, and they just really apologized and told us that this shouldn’t be happening at their school.”
The incident is under review by executive leadership at the university, including Chancellor John Sharp.
West said he would like to see results put in place as a result of meetings that would ensure that racist acts are not tolerated anywhere within the university system. He added that the students responsible should be found and severely disciplined, if not expelled.
He went on to say that if action wasn’t taken quickly, the reputation of the University could be at risk. Historically, the school is known for its recruitment of minority students from urban schools, having created outreach centers in Dallas as well as other locations, and offering scholarships to minority students.
However, he reiterated that allowing such behavior to take place can undo all the good that has been achieved over the years. If students return home and tell their friends and families what had happened, it could result in more people believing that the campus is unfriendly toward black students who are not athletes.
The Student Senate has also passed a resolution condemning the incident.
“The actions of a few do NOT reflect the beliefs of many,” the memo reads. “Such incidents show a blatant lack of respect for others and are offensive to Aggies who value diversity and inclusion, respect and integrity, excellence and character.”
A statement released by Uplift Education said they were proud of their students for the way they responded when faced with the incident.
While the students in question have not yet been identified by the University, a cell phone video shot by a faculty member could help uncover who was involved. The video is currently being reviewed by the University.