A few weeks ago, a column I wrote titled “Texas State University lacks the cultural infrastructure necessary for student success,” was published. While I stand fully by the assertions I made throughout that piece, a faculty member who I’ve worked with closely on the development of a Multicultural Lounge and Black Students’ Resource Library – which opened recently in the Honors College – approached me on the piece.
She pointed out to me that, as a dean, she considered herself a part of the higher administration I addressed so directly regarding the lack of support for the cultural needs of students. Taken aback, I realized a misconception I likely shared with many other student activists on campus.
While the general lack of presence and action from President Trauth’s cabinet on the most basic of cultural needs for students on a college campus is disappointing, many heads of departments, professors, general faculty & staff and other administrative leaders have consistently shown concrete support for student initiatives to make the campus a better place.
Without the alliance of professors, administrators and students, it would be another two to three years before students of Texas State had access to a multicultural lounge and likely a library of black literature would never be considered. Keep in mind, students at the University of Texas addressed this issue nearly 30 years ago.
The invaluable support students receive from their respective departments should not go unnoticed neither by students nor the President’s cabinet.
The lacking framework for cultural safety and education at Texas State University is mitigated only by the student organizations. I find myself reminded of when Trauth, the president of a Hispanic-Serving Institution, responds to the repeal of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program with only two sentences while students scrambled to find a way to bring an immigration attorney to campus and build scholarships to help undocumented students renew their DACA status before it is too late.
Where the president of our university has taken no stance, these students are able to receive support from faculty and administrators in departments such as Student Diversity and Inclusion, the School of Social Work, and the Honors College among others.
This, however, is not so much a testament to a successfully developed educational institution. Rather, it speaks to the humanity and initiative various departments and educators have taken upon themselves to enact and for this they should be recognized and rewarded. Not only do they work for the betterment of students, they also uphold the dignity of a passive university at a time when strong voices are so desperately needed.
While it is easy to feel powerless as students seeking graduation and emotional health, it is important to recognize that we should not be paying this much money to be ignored. Utilize the resources around you, seek help in your departments and make your voice heard—but don’t ask too much of our president because her hands seem so effectively tied. I wonder by whom.
– Tafari Robertson is a public relations senior