Texas A&M Diversity & Inclusion Response

Results of Investigations Regarding Racial Incident on Feb. 9, 2016

March 2, 2016

I want to share with the university community the status of the investigations into the racial incident on February 9, 2016, by the Dean of Student Life and University Police Department (UPD). I also want to communicate some of our recent and future actions to further advance and deepen diversity and inclusion on our campus.

The two separate investigations began immediately and included as extensive interviews as we were able to conduct with students, bystanders and witnesses and a review of all information that was made available to the University. The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) limits what information we are legally allowed to release. The law does not permit us to publicly disclose information associated with the Dean of Student Life investigation other than to say that one of the many students interviewed is no longer associated with Texas A&M University.  The case has concluded. However, if additional information comes to our attention we will further investigate and take any appropriate action. 

The police investigation was concluded and all information was turned over to the Brazos County attorney's office for review.  We have been informed that the county attorney has declined to pursue any action related to the case. I have asked that the information associated with the police investigation be made publicly available, in accordance with both open records and privacy laws, through appropriate channels.

Previously, the media had reported that there was a video of the actual incident.  We are not aware of any such video, nor has anyone provided us with any video. I have asked UPD to review and reopen the investigation as appropriate if additional information is brought to our attention.  I also would like to repeat from my earlier message to campus that Texas A&M has the website stophate.tamu.edu available for the reporting of racially based incidents and other hateful biased-based incidents.  

Focusing on diversity and inclusion

I would like to mention some previous actions that have taken place in this regard, as well as highlight some future initiatives we will undertake. Texas A&M significantly revised our overall diversity plan in 2010, which has been recently featured for its multidimensional approach to engaging diversity on campus.  This periodic revision is an important part of our plan, though we well understand we have so much more to accomplish in order to truly make a systemic change at Texas A&M. 

I am engaging University and community leaders, including faculty administrators, staff, and students, in a "call to action" to review current initiatives and measures and to propose new ones, in areas such as recruitment, retention, climate assessment and course and curricular change.  Here is a list of some of the activities planned, as well as those already being undertaken. I'm particularly pleased that many of these were recommended to us by various student groups and we are delighted to work with everyone to implement them.

  • Moving our STOPHATE desktop website to a mobile platform to allow easier and more timely reporting by students and the community.  This should be completed in April of 2016.
  • Implementing mandatory "Community of Respect" seminars for all students at New Student Conferences, beginning the summer of 2016, as well as other cultural competency training that is grounded in theory and has proven success. 
  • The Faculty Senate has scheduled an open forum on March 2 and 3 to hear ideas on responding to in-class incidents and how to make the required International and Cultural Diversity classes more applicable and purposeful.
  • Created permanent funding for our Aggies to Aggies Diversity Peer Education Program, starting this fall.
  • Created a mandatory Effective Communication Module, which will be required for two or more officers of every student organization to assist them in conducting effective dialogues and meaningful conflict resolution starting in April 2016

Working together to build a dynamic campus

As we all reflect on the various events on our campus, and those around the country over the past few months, it is impossible to ignore the importance of the principles of inclusion and diversity.  But despite all the headlines, it is sometimes easy to lose sight of just why it is so important to all of us here at Texas A&M. 

As a leading institution of higher education, we are the vanguard in affecting positive change in the attitudes and actions of future generations.  We are called upon to lead our communities and make a difference because the consequences of such acts are intolerable.  This change is essential in our ability to thrive and grow as our world diversifies.  We are launching our students into a world where they will need to work with everyone to be successful in addressing the great societal challenges that we, as a country, face.

As your President, I hope I am always open to that which challenges me and makes me uncomfortable, but that I always respond with the essential core value of respect in all that I do.  I hope all of you do so as well and join me in embedding all of the Aggie core values in all that we do.  In this way, we can eliminate fear and lead with hope in an effort to build a nurturing and respectful environment.

Michael K. Young

Police Investigation News Release

Statement from President Young

February 16, 2016

In the aftermath of the disturbing racist incident that occurred on our campus last week, I believe that our swift action and ongoing efforts to address this matter make it abundantly clear that racism and hate speech have absolutely no place at Texas A&M.

Also, I am extremely proud and inspired about the enormous letter-writing initiative our students have undertaken to reach out personally to the young students who experienced racial slurs while visiting our campus. This initiative by our thoughtful students is yet another example of how Aggies exemplify our core values. I could not be prouder of our concerned and thoughtful students, as well as the numerous faculty, staff and former students who have reached out to me offering support.

I encourage all students, faculty and staff to support the student-led initiative and demonstrate in a meaningful way that, as Aggies, we regret the pain and hurt feelings this incident may have caused these young students.

Michael K. Young
Texas A&M University

Statement from President Young

February 12, 2016

Tuesday's incident of hate speech on Texas A&M University's campus was heartbreaking and a disappointment to not only me, but also to our students, faculty, staff and the entire Texas A&M University family.

It is our greatest responsibility to provide a safe environment that fosters the development of thoughts and ideas that will ultimately change the world and solve our great global challenges. The behavior that took place on our campus falls far short of these expectations and will not be tolerated. We are now in the process of an expedited investigation of the incident to enable us to take appropriate action as quickly as possible. We have also reached out and maintained contact with Uplift Education, the group whose students experienced this inappropriate exchange.

I have been deeply moved and encouraged by the collective response of our current and former students, faculty, staff, and community partners in strongly condemning such behavior as unacceptable on our campus. We have worked diligently for years to make Texas A&M a place that creates the best possible environment for all to grow and develop intellectually and socially. While it is clear from this week's events that our work is far from over, it is my firm belief that we have the necessary resources and the commitment to reach these goals.

We have been engaged in diversity programs and outreach that are student, faculty and community-led. Our Office of Diversity houses an extensive catalogue of campus initiatives that are indispensable to arming our students with the broad perspective so unique to institutions of higher education. We want to provide our students, faculty and staff an experience rich in perspectives and the opportunity to learn and grow from one another. We would also like to invite you to take part in our annual Campus Climate Conference March 9-10 for a dialogue on climate, inclusion and respect: http://campusclimate.tamu.edu/.

While we are addressing the issue with a thorough police investigation and a code of conduct investigation within the Division of Student Affairs, we see this as an opportunity to engage in robust dialogue on civility, respect and responsibility. I challenge each one of you to foster an environment in which each one of us can live up to our greatest potential – learning, developing, and ultimately, thriving.

If you witness or experience a situation which you feel is inappropriate, please contact http://tellsomebody.tamu.edu. For more information about issues of civility, respect and inclusion at Texas A&M, visit http://stophate.tamu.edu/.

Michael K. Young

Letter from President Young

February 10, 2016

TO: The Texas A&M University Community

I am outraged and tremendously disappointed in the behavior displayed by a group of students on our College Station campus yesterday – one in which a group of ethnic minority high school students from the Dallas area reported that racial slurs were directed toward them during their campus tour. I deeply regret the pain and hurt feelings this incident caused these young students. Be assured that we take such allegations very seriously. Our police department responded to the scene following the reported incident and we are currently fully assessing it. In addition, we had administrators and students from campus who met with our visiting guests to assure them that they are welcome and respected by the vast majority of Aggies. This troubling incident will be thoroughly investigated to the fullest extent possible and appropriate action will be taken.

While the actions of a few certainly do not represent our institution as a whole, 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. This type of behavior goes against our A&M core values and in addition to immediate intervention, Texas A&M has the website http://stophate.tamu.edu/ available for the reporting of any non-emergency hateful or biased-based incidents.

Today I met with our student-led inclusion council seeking input into ways that Texas A&M can improve in making all people feel welcome and safe on our campus. Some positive and constructive suggestions came from that discussion and I have charged my respective Vice Presidents to engage with student, faculty and community leaders where appropriate. I also understand that a deeper discussion about freedom of speech and inclusion needs to take place. I look forward to sharing more thoughts on these subjects in the near future but in the meantime I ask all of you to reflect on your role in making Texas A&M a place where all are made to feel welcome and included.

Michael K. Young