Texas State President Denise Trauth and Provost Gene Bourgeois conducted meetings April 4 and April 9 with African-American and Hispanic student leaders, respectively, to discuss concerns that arose throughout the 2017-18 school year.
The meetings addressed campus initiatives to help students with legal advice on immigration, the implement of a Black Studies minor and a Hispanic Studies minor.
According to Emmy Orioha, president of the Pan African Action Committee, the administration’s inability to hire an immigration attorney stemmed from hesitations within the Texas State University System, including the Board of Regents.
However, Trauth said there are no current limitations on the university hiring an immigration attorney.
“The university is going down a path to hire an immigration attorney but in the meantime, is organizing such that there will be pro-bono attorneys available to students,” Trauth said.
Yunuen Alvarado, journalism junior and president of Underrepresented Student Advisory Council, said they were told Texas State is currently looking for a part-time attorney to start after June that could into a full-time position.
Joanne Smith, the vice president of Student Affairs, said the university is in the process of hiring a part-time attorney with immigration expertise in response to student demand. Smith said the decision is not a direct result of the meetings held by Trauth.
According to Alvarado, administrators in the meeting said the Provost will be hiring a diversity liaison special assistant to be a consultant on faculty diversity relations as well as a consultant when a faculty position needs to be filled to ensure hiring committees know what departments demographics look like.
The implementation plan for the African-American studies and Latino studies minors to be rolled out in Fall 2019 was presented by Bourgeois to student leaders in an attempt to assure them major steps have been taken.
According to Trauth, the meeting was an open dialogue between students and administration that centered around hiring an immigration attorney and a more diverse faculty.
Orioha said the meeting will only prove to be productive if the issues are met with a sense of urgency. The meeting did not adequately confront the issues of the racist fliers posted on campus throughout Fall 2017 or issues of white supremacy on campus, according to Orioha.
“We didn’t get an opportunity to speak on what is important and (is an example of) why there has to be follow-ups,” Orioha said.
Alvarado said she was unsure as to why separate meetings were held for African-American leaders and Hispanic leaders with administration and would like to see regular meetings with underrepresented students as a whole.
“I think it is concerning they made a meeting separately for Black student leaders and Latinx student leaders…” Alvarado said. “I don’t know if they are under the impression that black and brown students don’t mix, but we do. We are very connected. I think they shouldn’t try to separate us in meetings because while many of our concerns may be different we also care and advocate for each other.”
Nahara Franklin, vice president of the Underrepresented Student Advisory Council, said she is excited for the African-American Studies minor to be implemented and hopes to see further discussions with Trauth concerning the campus climate.
“As a black student, I do not feel safe on this campus,” Franklin said. “I would like to be seen, validated and protected. I would also like to see my other black peers who work just as hard, if not harder, protected and validated as well.”
Concerning future meetings, Trauth said she would be open to meet with students twice a year to further discuss campus climate issues.
“I am happy to meet with students anytime they want to…” Trauth said. “I have eight times a year where students can come and talk to me but in addition to those times, if a group of students wants to meet with me, all they have to do is ask and I am happy to.”