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Texas A&M focuses $25 million towards improving diversity; students say it's a step in the right direction

Texas A&M
Posted at 8:28 PM, Jan 25, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-25 21:28:03-05

COLLEGE STATION, TX — This summer, Texas A&M University found itself in the thick of a national conversation regarding Confederate relics across the country and in the Lone Star state.

The center of that conversation? A statue of Lawrence Sullivan "Sul" Ross, a former governor and Confederate genera, that sits in Academic Plaza on campus. Aggies, both current and former, have come together to voice their opinions, both for and against removing the statue.

“I feel like they’re moving towards different ways to get there, and I think as we start speaking up as the student body of what needs to be changed, I feel like A&M will listen and help us out as we go through these years,” said sophomore Clacey Core.

Former Texas A&M President Michael Young appointed a 45-person commission to handle diversity, equity, and inclusion last summer. On Monday, the university released its highly-anticipated final report of recommendations to improve race relations, diversity and address historical representations on campus, such as the Sullivan Ross statue.

The Board of Regents adopted to focus nearly $25 million to help address diversity issues across the Texas A&M University System.

Before Monday night's Board of Regents meeting, senior Fredrick “Red” McCloud said he had not seen any efforts in regard to addressing diversity from the university.

“If I’ll be honest, completely honest, I haven’t seen anything from the university from any of that stuff,” said McCloud. “I know it has been a big issue for like our Men’s Organization and other organizations on campus. But the university as a whole, like in general, I haven’t really seen too much input about it all.”

Following this past summer, the Matthew Gaines Society has seen an overwhelming amount of support, especially from the university. Matthew Gaines Initiative president Erica Pauls says they have reached their fundraising goal of $350,000.

“This was the first time that we got support from administration, all the way up to the chancellor, to the president, student leaders, faculty, staff, so this is the first time we have seen that widespread support,” she said.

Pauls says once the statue is installed on the south side of the Student Services Building, the Matthew Gaines Society will continue to push for diversity and inclusion, just like Senator Gaines had done.

“I think the thing we really want to get to the student body and everyone in general, we’re not done. We’re still working to fulfilling the legacy of Senator Matthew Gaines, but it doesn’t just stop at the statue,” said Pauls.

Earlier this month, the Aggie Bus Route 36 was renamed the Matthew Gaines Route, which students say is the first step to seeing real change on campus in College Station.

“I got to it like the first day. It came, and it was really exciting to see that they are finally making the minimal moves to get there and get stuff started. So I am really happy that they were able to make that bus,” said Core.

The Matthew Gaines initiative tells 25 News they have picked an artist, and Aggies could expect to see a statue by the end of 2021.