Texas AM University is investigating an incident involving students who shouted racial slurs and referenced the Confederate flag to a group of black and Latino high school students who were touring the campus Tuesday.
About 60 students from Uplift Hampton Preparatory, a southwest Dallas charter school, said they were taunted by students on campus during the visit. Two black high school students said they were approached by a white AM student wearing Confederate earrings, state Sen. Royce West said Thursday.
Others in the tour group said they heard white AM students telling them to “Go back where you came from,” and using an anti-black slur, said West, who said he was contacted by university officials.
The students were touring the university as part of the Road to College program, which takes students on several college trips across the nation, according to the Dallas Morning News.
West, a Democrat, called for the possible expulsion of the students who were allegedly involved in the incident. He demanded the university take action as soon as next week. Texas AM leaders “have political capital with me,” said West, the vice chairman of the Texas Senate’s higher education committee.
“If you’re not going to tolerate this type of behavior, then you’ve got to make a statement,” West said. “This gang of students that participated in this should be disciplined accordingly.”
University President Michael K. Young said Friday the lack of video or audio evidence of the incident taking place as complicated the investigation. A counselor from the tour group may have called police, and a campus officer did investigate at the scene, he said.
Young said Friday that racism needed to be addressed broadly at Texas AM, where the student body is 3.4 percent black, and elsewhere. One element of that discussion, he said, was addressing the meaning of the Confederate flag for white students who might not get the connections it has for many people to slavery and discrimination.
“If this event serves as an occasion to kind of galvanize the community even more to expand and deepen their efforts on that, I’m absolutely delighted to do that, because that’s what has to happen,” Young said.
Texas AM is one of the state’s biggest and most prestigious universities and is about 90 miles outside of Houston.
The university administration response so far has drawn praise. Dena Marks, associate director of the Southwest Regional Office of the Anti-Defamation League, told The (Bryan-College Station) Eagle of her satisfaction with “what they’ve done already to, number one, immediately recognize that perhaps there is a problem and, number two, to express that if there is a problem, this sort of thing should not be tolerated.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.