Hindus call for apology by Texas A&M for inaction on harassment of Hindu students

Calling for accountability and respect, perturbed Hindus are seeking apology from Texas A&M University (TAMU) for failing to take any concrete action to resolve the issue of reported “harassment and discrimination” of its Hindu students.

Distinguished Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada today, said that it was shocking to observe the blatant apathy of taxpayer-funded TAMU even after the reports of “harassment and discrimination” of its Hindu students became public knowledge.

A resolution, reportedly acknowledging “harassment and discrimination” Hindu students faced, passed at October 20 TAMU Student Senate meeting. Few reports in The Battalion (student newspaper of TAMU) also recorded this “harassment and discrimination” issue.

Moreover Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, also wrote to TAMU System Chancellor John Sharp, Board of Regents, Deputy Chancellor, Academic Affairs Vice Chancellor, Equal Opportunity & Diversity Director; besides TAMU President M. Katherine Banks, Provost, Vice President Student Affairs, Office for Diversity, Dean of Student Life, Ombuds Officer, etc.; highlighting the “harassment and discrimination” issue; but no tangible plan seemed to be in sight to resolve it.

Rajan Zed sought urgent intervention of Texas A&M Board of Regents Chairman Tim Leach, Chancellor John Sharp and President M. Katherine Banks to provide safe environment for its Hindu students so that they could focus on their educational pursuits free from reported belittlement, condemnation, discrimination, efforts at demeaning, harassment (in person, social media, texts, etc.), hateful actions, ill-treatment, judgment, mockery, oppression, ridicule, unnecessary hardships, etc.; and feel accepted, included and welcomed; and not projected as outcasts. Like all other students, they should have the right to practice their religion freely, be respected for their beliefs and stick to their value systems.

This “harassment and discrimination”, reportedly prevailing for some time, came into limelight in the TAMU Student Senate meeting of October six. How much more time the hefty TAMU bureaucracy (which claims of dedication to students’ well-being) would take to realize that Hindu students did have the right to exist without facing “harassment and discrimination”? Zed asked.

TAMU, which aims to be a “world-class university of the future” and boasts of two Nobel Prizes, should have felt the pain of its minority Hindu students much earlier (who had been reportedly feeling quite uncomfortable in their day-to-day tasks around the campus for quite some time), and taken some definitive steps to provide safe environment for them so that they could focus on their educational pursuits (like all other students). Besides resolving it, TAMU needed to come out with a strategic-plan so that no student groups had to live through such reportedly abhorrent circumstances in the future; Rajan Zed noted.

According to reports, Resolution S.R.74-16 took two meetings to pass in the 74th Session of the Student Senate on October 20 after heated hours long debates, acknowledging the “harassment and discrimination” Hindu students faced.

Zed suggested TAMU, whose Core Values include “respect”, to send its staff for training in inclusivity, dealing with harassment of minority religions, effective listening skills, etc.; so, the such an inappropriate behavior did not slip through in the future. TAMU officials should always keep their eyes and ears open to have a better feel of campus life, so that such issues never happen or get resolved before anybody complaining about these.

Rajan Zed pointed out that Hindu students deserved the same respect and welcome as any other TAMU student. It was highly irresponsible for an eminent institution like TAMU (whose “Purpose Statement” included: “To develop leaders of character dedicated to serving the greater good”), which should have shown some maturity and noticed this unacceptable environment prevailing in the campus for quite some time, making life difficult for students belonging to a minority religion.

TAMU, a public research university, “opened its doors in 1876 as the state’s first public institution of higher learning”. Its total enrollment in Fall 2020 was 71,109. Its Mission Statement includes: “It welcomes and seeks to serve persons of all racial, ethnic and geographic groups…”

Hinduism, oldest and third largest religion of the world, has about 1.2 billion adherents, and “moksh” (liberation) is its ultimate goal. There are about three million Hindus in USA.

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