Sen. Royce West: There Should Be ‘Severe Consequences’ For Racist Incident at A&M

“If you have several people who come together for an organized event and then begin to taunt students… that constitutes a gang to me.”

By Rhonda FanningFebruary 17, 2016 10:41 am| , ,

Leaders at Texas A&M University continue to deal with the fallout over an incident last week, when a group of around 60 juniors from Uplift Hampton Preparatory School in Dallas visited the A&M campus. The students were there to learn about college. Instead, they were said to be the target of racial slurs and shouts of “go back to where you came from.”

While the university continues to investigate the incident, Texas A&M Chancellor John Sharp and President Michael Young met privately with the Uplift students. Texas Sen. Royce West, a Democrat from Dallas, talks with the Standard about the situation and the University’s response.

On the A&M student body’s reaction to the incident:

“The student body president of A&M came (to the meeting) and delivered thousands of letters from the multitude of students down at A&M to make sure that the students know that the great majority of the students there didn’t feel the same way as those gang members that accosted them. The fact is, is that I thought that was a showing of good faith.”

On the use of the term “gang”:

“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. And that constitutes a gang to me.”

On how this could impact efforts to increase diversity on college campuses:

“It kind of gets down to what A&M does as it relates to concluding its investigation and action that it takes. If it’s a mediocre response, as it has been in the past – this is not new behavior, this is behavior that has occurred there and in other institutions, UT, you could name campus after campus. It’s something thats going on around the country. And so, if they follow suit and do what they’ve done in the past, then its going to have a negative impact on their ability to be able to attract ethnic minorities.”

On how Texas A&M is handling this incident differently:

“I think its a good indication. I don’t know of any situation where something like this has happened like this 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.”

On how to talk about race before kids get to college:

“I think it kind of starts at home, and it starts also in the media. The fact is that we’re going to have all types of -isms throughout our life. That’s what I’ve learned over these years that I’ve been alive. But it’s got to start at home, and it has to 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. I would think if we do that a couple of times, then the masses will get the message.”