State Senator Stands Up for High Schoolers Racially Harassed at Texas A&M

By Sheryl Estrada


Texas Sen. Royce West (D-23rd District)

A group of approximately 60 Black and Latino high school juniors from Uplift Hampton Preparatory School in Dallas toured the Texas A&M University’s College Station campus last week. They were subjected to racial slurs from white college students, who also shouted “Go back where you came from.”

“The fact is, if you have several people come together for an organized event and then begin to taunt students new students the fact is that they are engaging in a behavior as a unit,” state Sen. Royce West (D-Dallas) said in an interview on Wednesday. “And that constitutes a gang to me.”

West’s district includes Uplift Hampton, an inner citycharter school with predominantly Black and Latino students. The students visited Texas A&M as part of “Road to College,” a program that takes high school students on tours of colleges and universities across the country.

According to West’s eight-paragraph statement released Feb. 11, the incident began on Feb. 9 when a white woman wearing Confederate flag earrings approached two Black high school students. She asked their opinion of her earrings and whether they’d be able to wear the jewelry at school.

A group of “white male and female students” then began taunting the students “using the most well-known racial slur that’s directed toward African Americans.”

West said the incident was witnessed and reported by Texas A&M officials accompanying the high school students.

“A campus officer initially said that the A&M students were expressing their First Amendment rights,” he wrote. “However, campus police were dispatched and a report was made. An account from Uplift Hampton faculty who witnessed the incident was also forwarded to A&M officials.”

President Michael K. Young said the university has now identified some of the students involved. Young, Chancellor John Sharp and student body President Joseph Benigno met privately with the Uplift Hampton students in Dallas on Tuesday to apologize for their treatment. West attended the meeting as well.

Related Story: Racism at Elite High Schools: Social Media Exposes, Leadership Fails

“We wanted to meet directly with the students, and I wanted to tell them how deeply sorry I was, and how sorry many people were, about what happened,” Young said in a statement. “I wanted them to know that doesn’t represent the values that we really hold dear at A&M.”

Young also said he was impressed by the students’ reaction.

“They are precisely the kinds of students we’d love to see enrolling,” he said. “At the end of the day, racism is systemic and endemic all over American society.”

Related Story: Luke Visconti, CEO: Crisis in Higher Education a Long Time Coming

Young has written three official statements following the racist incident.

On Feb. 10 he wrote, “It is the responsibility of all of us to stop any incidents that could be considered hateful or biased-based on race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, disability or any other factor.”

The Texas A&M College Station campus has 43,931 undergraduate students. The student body is 68 percent white, 20 percent Latino, 5 percent Asian, 3 percent Black and less than 1 percent American Indian.

Benigno delivered thousands of support letters to the high school students on Tuesday.

“This is a physical representation of what we stand for and what we really hold so dear to us because what they had experienced was such a[n] unfortunate misrepresentation of Texas A&M,” he said.

“I thought [theletter writing]was a showing of good faith,” West said. “I don’t know of any situation where something like this has happened before in Texas or around the country, where the president of the university and the chancellor of the system have gone to a particular school to apologize for the behavior of a few gang members on the campus.”

While police and Texas A&M are conducting investigations, university officials have not yet announced the disciplinary actions they will take against the students.

West said there should be an “institutional response to this type of behavior that makes certain that people know that if they come to an institution of higher education and they engage in this type of behavior, there will be severe consequences.”

He added, “I would think if we do that a couple of times, then the masses will get the message.”

In 2013, The Texas Association for the Protection of Children honored West with the Children’s Champion Award for his efforts in reducing the threat of child abuse while improving the well being of children across the state.

Latest News

Xfinity and NBCUniversal Team Up to Bring a Free Virtual Camp Experience to the Living Rooms of Xfinity Customers

Originally posted on Comcast.com Today Comcast’s Xfinity is opening Camp Tonsafun, a free virtual camp hosted by counselors from the NBCUniversal family and beyond featuring activities that are tailor-made for Xfinity customers and families to enjoy at home. According to the American Camp Association, each year more than 14 million…

Latest Research Based on U.S. Payroll Data Reveals Magnitude of the Impact of COVID-19 on the Labor Market

Originally posted on ADP.com ADP Research Institute® Hosts Fourth Annual State of the Labor Market Summit Featuring the Latest Research from Top Economists and Scholars, Rooted in ADP’s Unmatched, Unique Data Insights derived from ADP’s anonymized and aggregated payroll data enabled economists and academia to model the effects of COVID-19…

What Friends Tell Friends: Choose Kaiser Permanente

Originally published on about.kaiserpermanente.org. Integrated, nonprofit health plan tops NICE Satmetrix customer experience benchmark study for 10th straight year. For the 10th year in a row, more people would recommend Kaiser Permanente to a friend or colleague than any other health plan in the nation, according to the recently released…

Cesar Conde

NBCUniversal Sets Ambitious 50% Diversity Goal for Women, People of Color

Cesar Conde, chairman at NBCUniversal News Group, announced a groundbreaking goal to have a 50% diverse workforce at NBCUniversal, according to Deadline. Conde, the first Latino in this role, outlined his plans in an internal video for employees on Wednesday. The ultimate goal is for NBCUniversal, No. 7 on DiversityInc’s 2020…

Mastercard Expands ShopOpenings.com to the U.S. & Canada, Delivering a Search Tool That Identifies What Stores Near You Are Open for Business

Originally published on mastercardcontentexchange.com. Search solution complements new Digital Acceleration for Small Business global initiative which helps small businesses advance digitally and drive online commerce As businesses seek to draw customers back both in store and online, Mastercard is introducing new tools to support them. Today, Mastercard announced the geographic…