Student Senate Passes Resolution Expressing Support for the Aggie Hindu Community | New
After an hour-long debate at the last Student Senate meeting, changes were made to a bill dealing with the treatment of Hindu students on campus.
The Student Senate met on Wednesday, October 20 and discussed the support and recognition for the resolution of the Aggie Hindu community, which was raised at the previous meeting on October 6 in light of Governor Greg Abbott’s September 21 proclamation recognizing October as Hindu Heritage Month. The resolution was edited in committee to reflect the October 6 debate, with a possible passage at Wednesday’s meeting with a vote of 29-23.
“The 74th Session of the Texas A&M Student Senate supports the right of Aggies Hindus to exist and be accepted into their identity, to feel welcome and to participate fully in campus life and to come together, without hatred or discrimination », Indicates the resolution.
Debate on the resolution has been controversial over the past two meetings due to wording some Senate members have found too accusatory towards Christian students. The language of the resolution was reworded at Wednesday’s meeting.
“Although one of the core values of Texas A&M University is respect, many Hindu students who testified before the Student Senate testified that they were all oppressed by fellow Aggies, most of whom are affiliated to Christianity “, we read in the amended text.
The authors of the resolution, including Dang Dang, head of biochemistry, said the changes reflected the purpose of the resolution, which was not to divide students, but to bring attention to an issue that many students were unaware.
“We have raised this issue to let everyone know that this is what is happening on campus,” Dang said.
Most of the debate on this resolution focused on another addition to the resolution. The special committee responsible for editing the resolution added a request that the resolution be sent to every student organization on campus affiliated with Christianity. Senior executive Yovanka Gonzalez, a member of the off-campus caucus, argued the addition distracted attention from the resolution’s purpose.
“I want to make it clear that this legislation has never been and never will be something that was designed to attack or target Christian organizations on campus but, as many of you know, it has unfortunately already been wrong. performed by many people, ”Gonzalez said.
The amendment to the resolution was adopted unanimously. Other changes to the resolution included replacing the word “oppression” with “harassment and discrimination” to better represent the lived experiences of many Hindu students.
Tiffany Ufodiama, a sophomore political science student and chair of the Diversity and Inclusion Committee, said passing the resolution showed some the effect the Student Senate can have.
“Remember that the purpose of the Student Senate is to represent the entire student body, and the people who need help right now are people from the Hindu community,” Ufodiama said.
Due to the popularity of the resolution from the previous debate, an abundance of students attended the meeting to watch the debate from members of the Senate. With the number of students present, there was not enough room in the Senate Chamber for everyone who showed up, which necessitated the installation of a second monitoring room.
Two lecturers, second year in nuclear engineering Maanya Gulati and Anu Khatri, President of the Association of Hindu Students, shared their experiences as Hindu students on the A&M campus and the effect this recognition will have. Gulati and Khatri both explained how Hindu students faced discrimination inside and outside the classroom.
“In a religion class I took last semester, an editor confused putting pennies on [the statue of Sullivan Ross] to the practice of leaving offerings on Hindu deities ”, Gulati noted.
Gulati said that even before starting her freshman year at A&M, she was harassed by her fellow Aggies, constantly telling her to go to different churches or Bible studies. She said, in her opinion, that there is a drastic difference between evangelism and harassment. She defined this line based on the consent of both sides to the conversation.
“I think [the line] is pulled when there is consent, so basically if someone comes up to me and asks me if it’s okay to talk about what they want to talk about ”, Gulati noted.
Constantly texting someone about different religious events while showing no interest is on the harassment side, Gulati said.
Alexia Hernandez, head of international affairs, said that the fact that the resolution took two meetings totaling more than four hours of debate to pass shows that it is a major issue within the Aggie community and within of the Student Senate.
“It’s really interesting for me to see how in the first case of accountability to a culture of unwelcoming underrepresented religions, there is all this debate and this defensive attitude instead of just realizing that this is a problem. for a very long time, “Hernandez mentioned. “And it’s really telling that this body is so defensive in the face of such a small thing that has been confirmed to be true and is not accusing an entire group.”
In addition to the Hindu resolution, the October 20 meeting was sworn in to the newly elected senators. A bill to increase the tuition fee cap for student health services has also been introduced and will be voted on at the next meeting on November 3.