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Texas A&M faculty, students react to Diversity Plan accepted by Board of Regents

Posted at 6:38 PM, Jan 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-26 19:56:10-05

COLLEGE STATION, TX — The Texas A&M University Commission on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion presented their recommendations to the Board of Regents Monday evening.

While Texas A&M continues inching closer to becoming a Hispanic Serving Institution, former President Michael Young’s 45-person commission found Texas A&M, falls short, in matching the State’s demographic population.

“It’s about time that this acknowledgment has come in terms of the growth of the Latino student population. We’ve known it, I think a lot of people have known it on campus for a long time and so to be able to acknowledge it in such a public way and then commit dollars to it is significant,” says Felipe Hinojosa, a history professor in Latino and Mexican American Studies at Texas A&M.

Laid out in the $25 million dollar plan, details, expanding the student pipeline, increase regents scholar program and national recognition scholarships, establish pathways-to-doctorate fellowships, growing ACES (Accountability, Climate, Equity, and Scholarship) fellows faculty program, and recognize Aggies leading by example and the success of former students of color. Hinojosa says, he is cautiously optimistic that the plan will foster a change of culture on A&M's campus.

“I do believe their [the Commission] hearts are in the right place, in terms of moving this forward, but reports that come out of institutions should always be met with some form of skepticism, we should always be cautiously optimistic about,” shared Hinojosa.

A member of the Commission of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, Kristina Ballard provided a statement to 25 News regarding the Commission's findings and recommendations.

“Being on the Commission was an incredible opportunity that I was humbled to be a part of. Diversity is critical to the health of any organization, and by approving plans that total nearly $25 million, I think university leadership has truly committed to elevating us beyond a surface-level dedication to excellence, integrity, and respect for our underrepresented peers and colleagues. I believe the focused action plan highlighted by Interim President Junkins last night, hones in on initiatives that will have immediate, and significant impact on our climate, students, staff, and faculty."

Elizabeth Barnes, a senior at Texas A&M University in College Station says after reading the Commission’s findings, she is happy with the recommendations accepted by the Board of Regents, but says it's still lacking a clear timeline.

“I would love to see a timeline-based placed on some of these actions, so we know exactly when these things are coming, so they don’t just get phased out over time,” says Barnes.

Barnes says, she hopes the University begins to realize it is made better by having diversity on campus brought together by the Aggie Core values.

“I really want A&M to look at its campus culture, and evaluate, how we can take more aggressive steps to make sure all types of people can thrive here, excel here, and feel a part of the Aggie community,” says Barnes.

To view the diversity plan in its entirety, click here.