Texas A&M president Michael Young has announced the formation of a commission to consider the future of statues, monuments, and buildings as to their placement and historical context.
Young says this group’s first recommendation will involve the Sul Ross statue.
The president also announced the creation of a task force on race relations, whose purpose “is to better address racist behavior, from prevention to bystander intervention to all available sanctions, and campus climate.”
Young says the composition of both bodies will “include current and former students, faculty, staff and relevant subject matter experts”.
What the president called A&M’s “Commission on Historic Representations” and race relations task force followed a meeting with A&M system chancellor John Sharp.
The chancellor issued a statement pledging his support to both groups.
Earlier today I met with Chancellor John Sharp to discuss continued racism on the Texas A&M campus. We discussed posts on social media and emails shared by current and former students about their experiences of racism during their time at Texas A&M. Chancellor Sharp and I also discussed the presence of the statue of Lawrence Sullivan Ross, former president of A&M and member of the Confederacy, including how we address the historical context of its presence and its symbolism to the entire campus community. We also discussed a review of similar representations on campus.
Effective immediately, I am announcing the following groups, each to include current and former students, faculty, staff and relevant subject matter experts:
A Task Force on Race Relations. The remit of this group is to better address racist behavior, from prevention to bystander intervention to all available sanctions, and campus climate;
A Commission on Historic Representations. This Commission will review representations – to include statues, monuments, buildings and similar representations – in name, placement and historical context on our campus and suggest appropriate courses of action with respect to each of them. This group will be asked to begin with making a recommendation on the Lawrence Sullivan Ross statue in the near future.
This Task Force and the Commission complement specific actions announced in recent days to create meaningful change and I thank Chancellor Sharp for his support. Both groups will bring a wide range of perspectives through their experience and expertise. In the coming days we will announce membership and process.
It is time for a unified approach on how we address the representation of people who contributed to Texas A&M throughout our history and how we want to shape the expectations and behavior of our community to stand firmly against racism.
I am eager to get these efforts going. I agree with Chancellor Sharp that the findings, recommendations and resolutions should take place within the next several months and that we will act upon the recommendations of these groups.
With this and more actions to come, we have an opportunity to continue our path to excellence not only in academics and research but also in our respect of each other. I count on all Aggies to contribute to the success of each other and our communities.
Statement from Texas A&M system chancellor John Sharp:
I have spent the last few nights reading on social media about the experiences of minority students and their families with racism in our community.
It is heartbreaking – and unacceptable.
While my personal opinion has not changed about the importance of Lawrence Sullivan Ross to Texas A&M, we Aggies must stand united against racism and love one another.
Racist behavior should never be tolerated. The law may not allow us to expel students who use “free speech” as an excuse to spew hatred and racism, but we do not have to let racist conduct and actions go unchallenged.
Racists are not welcome at Texas A&M. If we have to challenge them and call them out publicly, we will. We are Aggies – brothers and sisters – and we ask anyone who cannot abide by our Core Values to stay away.
As Chancellor, I pledge my support of the university’s creation today of the Task Force on Race Relations and the Commission on Historic Representations.