Texas A&M officials say the statue of Lawrence Sullivan Ross will remain at its place in Academic Plaza, according to The Eagle.
This Jan. 27 announcement follows a recent meeting by the university’s Board of Regents, in which they discussed an approved action plan after a presentation by the Commission for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. The budget for this plan totaled nearly $25 million, and includes additional scholarships to minority students and outreach for potential students. The Ross statue was mentioned in the report given by the commission, implying that addressing the issues surrounding the statue would be a positive action on A&M’s part.
“The commission’s study of 19 other universities found that not addressing the attention or controversy surrounding symbols, names and iconography will likely result in additional reputational damage and continue strife indefinitely,” the commission’s report said.
This commission was initially proposed last summer by former President Michael K. Young, who intended to request a recommendation on the Ross statue from the commission. However, he did not require any such recommendation when it was officially started.
Last year, amid the summer student protests surrounding the statue, Texas’ Attorney General Ken Paxton opined that only the Texas Legislature has the power to remove the statue completely from campus, according to The Texas Tribune. A&M only has the authority to relocate the Ross statue or move it to a “prominent location.”
According to The Eagle, interim President John Junkins said it is likely more statues and monuments will be added to campus, with no removal of any present ones. Junkins said the intention of the statues is to outline the history of A&M. In the case of Ross, he said a biography including Ross’ ties to the Confederacy will be present.
“I think the documentation of our history, and essentially the key contributors over time to get to our current state and that’s [why] Ross belongs,” Junkins said. “But we’re gonna try to change the conversation to get away from the dedication of leaders in terms of all attributes of their lives and recognize mainly the contribution to building the university.”