Six core values are embedded in the culture of Texas A&M: loyalty, integrity, excellence, leadership, respect and selfless service. These core values have been celebrated by Aggies for decades as a desire for and commitment to greatness.
But recently, a local movement on social media has illuminated how many students believe a seventh, hidden core value is also embedded in the culture at A&M.
The hashtag #hateisthehiddencorevalue began on June 8 and has already been used by hundreds of Aggies on Twitter to share personal stories of racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia and religious discrimination they have experienced on campus.
In the midst of recent protests about police brutality and racial equality, urban planning junior Diana Evonne was approached by another student who wanted Evonne to use her platform to start the #hateisthehiddencorevalue movement exposing discrimination at A&M and the university’s lack of action.
“We’ve had zero transparency with [the university’s] process in taking care of these things that have been happening for a really long time,” Evonne said. “We usually just get an email and we never really hear back from administration on what they did or what they’re going to do to change the campus culture.”
Stories of discrimination posted with the tag came not only from current Aggies, but also former students like Mehvish Khan, Class of 2019, who, despite loving the university, suffered from hateful encounters.
“I was followed while walking home by some drunk students shouting ‘Allahu Akbar,’ my random roommates were as disrespectful as possible to me and only wanted to talk politics, and everywhere I went someone was trying to convert me from the apparently savage religion my family and I were a part of,” Khan said. “The School of Public Health gave me an incredible education, but I felt like my day-to-day interactions were tinged with students who really should know better or at least be held accountable for their actions.”
Khan’s experience and hundreds of others can be read by searching “#hateisthehiddencorevalue” on Twitter.
Evonne said that while the response to the hashtag has been overwhelming, it hurts her to read about so many other Aggies who have encountered hate at A&M.
“For [former students] to see it and be like ‘I see that nothing has changed on campus,’ it kind of breaks my heart a little bit because it’s true,” Evonne said. “There hasn’t been a real change and if anything, there’s been more resources for minorities in order for them to be safe but there haven’t been enough resources for people to learn how to protect minorities.”
President Michael K. Young sent out an email on June 11 addressing the Twitter movement and announcing a new bystander intervention training focused on racism that will be released by the fall.
“Your stories are painful but important for us to read, and of course we know are much more painful for you to experience and share,” the statement read. “The best way to reveal and stop the ugliness of racism is not to sweep it under the rug, but to shine a light on it, and to address it head on. We see you. We hear you. And, on behalf of the leadership team, I deeply regret that members of the university community have failed you in these circumstances.”
Although change may be hard for those with closed minds, Evonne said the first step toward achieving change is listening to the experiences of minority students on campus.
“In all aspects, try to be an ally,” Evonne said. “I understand that it might be really hard for you to understand the experiences of something that you have never experienced personally, but lend an open ear because everybody leads a different life and what we see on campus isn’t what everyone else sees.”
Evonne said she believes that despite the negative situation, there is hope for students of all backgrounds to make a positive impact on campus culture.
“As much as it looks like this culture will never change, I really do see A&M in the future bringing in more very loud and proud Aggies of color and being able to completely turn around the culture on campus,” Evonne said. “I know it looks bad right now but there are students here trying to make a difference and there will always be students that are going to want to keep making that change.”
To report instances of hate, discrimination or harassment, visit stophate.tamu.edu. Additional resources for students experiencing these issues or looking for someone to talk to can be found at caps.tamu.edu.