Texas A&M University officials are expressing the requisite shock and disappointment after a group of white students reportedly yelled racial slurs at a group of black high school students visiting from Dallas’ Uplift Hampton Preparatory. A woman wearing Confederate flag earrings also reportedly approached two high school girls on the tour to ask if they liked them.
About 60 Uplift students were touring A&M’s College Station campus, which in 2014 was 62 percent white among undergrads. One of the Uplift students, 16-year-old Terquarie Wilson, told CBS DFW the incident began with a stupid sports rivalry and escalated hideously: an A&M student spotted one of Wilson’s friends carrying a University of Texas-branded bag. They yelled “Go back where you came from!” The Uplift student responded something to the effect of, “You do realize we’re all black, right?” and walked away; faculty supervisors say they heard the A&M students use a racial slur as the group walked away. The woman with the Confederate flag earrings approached a few minutes later.
State Senator Royce West, who represents the Dallas area, said in a statement that the slurs are “disturbing,” and that the campus response was even more so: a campus officer summoned to the scene initially told Uplift teachers that the students were just exercising their First Amendment rights, before finally agreeing to take a report. He also said the incident would probably make black students not feel particularly welcome at A&M (they currently comprise a whopping 3 percent or so of the TAMU student body).
West is calling for the students to be identified and, at the very least, “strongly disciplined”:
While high level meetings are taking place among A&M administrative, faculty and student leaders, those meetings need to produce results that say that overt acts of racism will not be tolerated anywhere within the university system. I expect a response that is swift and similar to those taken at the University of Oklahoma. The students responsible for these reprehensible actions should be strongly disciplined, if not expelled.
The A&M students involved haven’t yet been identified, although there is reportedly cellphone footage of the incident taken by Uplift faculty that could help.
Texas A&M President Michael Young is sorry.
Screenshot via CBS DFW