The Texas A&M Student Senate recently passed a resolution supporting the addition of gender identity and expression to the attributes currently covered by that university system’s nondiscrimination policy. The policy already includes sexual orientation.
The action by the Student Senate stands in stark contrast to a resolution passed by the same body last year supporting legislation in the Texas House to defund campus LGBT resource centers, that resolution was later vetoed by the student body president. The nondiscrimination resolution’s author, Andrew Jancaric, says it’s no coincidence that the student senate has done such an about face. “Certain members who supported resolution [to defund LGBT resource centers] are gone,” says Jancaric. “I wasn’t involved in student government until I saw what my representatives, the people who were supposed to be representing me, were trying to do.” He adds that many students were spurred to action by what they saw as a misrepresentation of the Aggie spirit. “We saw what they were doing and thought ‘this is a problem that we have, we need to get involved to change the dialogue.’” According to Jancaric over 90% of the student senators supported his nondiscrimination resolution.
Jancaric is working with allies in the Faculty Senate and Graduate Student Council to pass similar resolutions. He says the next step will be to begin a lobbying campaign with the A&M system Board of Regents and Chancellor, who oversee the statewide A&M university system and its 100,000 students.
Jancaric acknowledges that A&M is not the most LGBT friendly school (last year the Princeton Review ranked it the least friendly public university in the nation for GLBT students). “It’s an institution that’s steeped in it’s traditions as an all male military school. There’s a culture of masculinity. That has been an obstacle towards equality.” At the same time he feels that fighting for LGBT equality at A&M is vital. “I believe that equality needs to happen everywhere,” says Jancaric. “If we leave instiutions like A&M alone in the corner to fester we won’t achieve it.”