Resolution, reportedly highlighting “harassment and discrimination” of Hindu students, passed at recent Student Senate meeting of prestigious Texas A&M University in College Station, has left the Hindu communities perturbed. Taxpayer-funded Texas A&M, 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 concrete steps; distinguished Hindu statesman Rajan Zed emphasized in Nevada today.
Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, 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.
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. Calling for accountability and respect, Rajan Zed also urged Texas A&M to issue a formal apology to its Hindu students for what they have gone through in an educational institution whose “Purpose Statement” included: “To develop leaders of character dedicated to serving the greater good”.
Zed recommended Leach, Sharp and Banks to immediately meet with the Hindu students and develop strategies together so that they felt included and could avail all the resources of Texas A&M for their growth without the fear of harassment and discrimination. Rajan Zed suggested Texas A&M, 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. Texas A&M officials should always keep their eyes and ears open to have a better feel of campus life.
Zed pointed out that Hindu students deserved the same respect and welcome as any other Texas A&M student. It was highly irresponsible for an eminent institution like Texas A&M, 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. Texas A&M, 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.