By Newsweek |
After Video of Texas A&M Student Using N-Word Goes Viral, Petition Demands Students Sign Honor Code
After a video of a Texas A&M University student using the N-word went viral, a senior at the school created a petition demanding repercussions and increased accountability, including students signing an honor code.
The video posted to Snapchat showed a student holding a beer in front of a chalkboard, repeatedly using the N-word to describe the racial characteristics of a child with parents who were half Caucasian and half African American. University President Michael Young called the behavior "abhorrent" and "against the core values" of the school community.
"We must be vigilant in addressing and confronting what drives hate speech and prejudice," Young said in a statement. "This starts with each of us in the Aggie community calling out this behavior."
Students spoke out about the incident on Twitter and senior Morgan Gambit started an online petition, which had more than 1,600 signatures as of Tuesday afternoon. The petition listed four demands, including a sanctions matrix similar to Title VI and Title VII and on-campus education about hatred, racism and ways people can intervene.
The petition also called for a requirement that students sign the school's honor code. As listed on the university's website, the honor code asks "nothing of a person that is beyond reason" and therefore would be easy for most people to follow.
"It only calls for honesty and integrity, characteristics that Aggies have always exemplified," the website stated. "The Aggie Code of Honor functions as a symbol to all Aggies, promoting understanding and loyalty to truth and confidence in each other."
Along with changes for the entire student body, the petition requested "transparency" and "serious repercussions" for the students involved.
"Similar 'incidents' have occurred in the past and students have lost their trust with the university's ability to handle these situations," the petition stated.
Young informed students in his statement that the Student Conduct office would investigate the incident and those found responsible would be held accountable. However, he added that the university cannot disclose the outcome of the investigation because of the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act.
On Monday, Gambit sent an email to Young and his cabinet, which she posted on the petition's website. She wrote that she was "troubled and upset" by the video and explained that she created the petition "in the spirit of support to help the university address and prevent issues of racism and discrimination from happening again."
Gambit requested a meeting with Young in an effort to aid the university in implementing positive changes to move the school forward.
In February, Young addressed racially charged photos found in Texas A&M yearbooks from over the years. He said a team of archivists were "unequivocally appalled" that the yearbooks contained photos of students in blackface and "other shocking content that is offensive and inappropriate."
Young explained the archivists digitized the books as they were without censoring the content for the sake of preserving the record of history, regardless of how the photos were viewed through a modern lens.
Similar to his message about the recent video, the president responded to the incident by encouraging people to call out discrimination and respect everyone.