Skip to content
x
  
  
University's Response to Event Petition Posted: 6/01/18

University's Response to Event Petition

 

Globe at TAMIU Entrance
 

A petition from concerned members of the Texas A&M International University community regarding an on-campus event scheduled here June 5 was received by the University’s Equal Opportunity and Diversity Office May 31.

The University’s response to the petition is below.

 petition response part 1

 petition response part 2

Text for the Response Follows:

 

June 1, 2018

 

Dear Petitioners,

We have received and reviewed your petition.  In response to the June 5 event, Dr. Arenaz, president, issued the following statement on Tuesday, May 29:

“As a State agency, Texas A&M International University (TAMIU) rents facilities when available to all groups, including outside or third-party organizations, regardless of their viewpoint.  When it does so, this should never be interpreted as an endorsement or as in any way supportive of these groups, or their messages.  Like all public universities, TAMIU is a public forum for the exchange of ideas.  While this event is not consistent with our shared values, international mission or enduring commitment to diversity and inclusion, these groups may present their perspective, which may or may not be shared by others.”

As your petition maintains, and as an institution of higher education, we, too, “…value and respect the free exchange of ideas among students at the university…” and embrace our “…responsibility to elevate discourse...”  It is in support of these principles that the University rents facilities when available to all groups.

Your petition states that this event “…create[s] a pervasively hostile environment for vulnerable student minority groups like the LGBT community,” adding “…TAMIU is relinquishing its responsibility to create a safe and welcoming environment for all students, regardless of their sexual orientation.”  In Doe v. University of Michigan, a university regulation that subjected people to discipline for “any behavior…that stigmatizes or victimizes an individual on the basis of race, ethnicity, religion, sex, sexual orientation, creed, national origin, ancestry, age, marital status, handicap, or…vet status” was deemed unconstitutional. TAMIU is a public university.  As a public university, we are prohibited from censoring any lawful speech, and to censor some lawful speech would pose a danger to all lawful speech.

As many signatories to this petition are students, we would note that the tenets of free speech and higher education are parallel. Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote that free speech serves three principles: advancing knowledge and truth in the marketplace of ideas; facilitating representative democracy and self-government; and promoting individual autonomy, self-expression, and self-fulfillment. These are integral to the goals of higher education: the discovery, pursuit, and dissemination of knowledge.

Concerns have been expressed that the June 5 event will present conversion as the only option for those who are struggling with their sexuality.  However, TAMIU always provides free counseling services to students at our Student Counseling and Disability Services Office, counseling resources for employees through our Employee Assistance Plan, and assistance for all at the Community Counseling Center.

We also encourage student participation in regular campus climate surveys and involvement with the Campus Ally Network (CAN) student organization. For additional insight, please pick up a copy of the May issue of The Bridge, TAMIU’s student run newspaper released today.  As quoted in this issue, in response to another organization perceived as hostile towards the LGBTQ community, CAN released a statement equally applicable to the subject of this petition.  “Protesting outside doesn’t change what’s happening inside!  Having this event canceled doesn’t change what they believe.  But when someone changes someone’s way of thinking is when change and understanding can happen.”

It is our understanding CAN and Equality Texas are in discussion regarding alternative events. Just as all individuals are welcome to attend the Repairers of Broken Walls Ministries event to learn about their position and resources, they are also welcome to attend any CAN and/or Equality Texas event to learn about their position and resources.