Calling for accountability and respect, perturbed Hindus are seeking an apology from Texas A&M University (TAMU), USA for failing to take any concrete action to resolve the issue of reported harassment and discrimination of its Hindu students.
Rajan Zed, President of Universal Society of Hinduism, in a statement in Nevada today, said that it was shocking to observe the blatant apathy of taxpayer-funded TAMU even after the reports of harassment and discrimination of its Hindu students became public knowledge.
A resolution acknowledging harassment and discrimination Hindu students faced, was passed on October 20 at a TAMU Student Senate meeting. Few reports in The Battalion (student newspaper of TAMU) also recorded this harassment and discrimination issue.
Zed also wrote to TAMU System Chancellor John Sharp, Board of Regents, Deputy Chancellor, Academic Affairs Vice Chancellor, Equal Opportunity & Diversity Director; besides TAMU President M. Katherine Banks, Provost, Vice President Student Affairs, Office for Diversity, Dean of Student Life, Ombuds Officer, etc.; highlighting the “harassment and discrimination” issue; but no tangible plan seemed to be in sight to resolve it.
TAMU needed to come out with a strategic plan so that no student groups had to live through such reportedly abhorrent circumstances in the future, Rajan Zed noted. Zed suggested TAMU 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. TAMU officials should always keep their eyes and ears open to have a better feel of campus life, so that such issues never happen or get resolved before anybody complaining about these.
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.
The TAMU Student Senate met on Wednesday, Oct. 20 and discussed the Support and Recognition for the Hindu Aggie (what TAMU students/alumni call themselves) Community resolution, which was brought up at the previous meeting on Oct. 6 in light of Gov. Greg Abbott’s Sept. 21 proclamation recognizing October as Hindu Heritage Month. The resolution was edited in committee to take into account the Oct. 6 debate, with an eventual passage with a vote of 29-23, the TAMU student newspaper reported.
“While one of Texas A&M University’s Core Values is Respect, many Hindu students who gave testimony to the Student Senate testified that they all have faced oppression by some fellow Aggies, who mostly affiliate with Christianity,” the final resolution read.
Two speakers at the Student Senate meeting, nuclear engineering sophomore Maanya Gulati and Anu Khatri, president of the Hindu Students Association, shared their experiences as Hindu students on A&M’s campus and the effect this recognition will have. Gulati and Khatri both spoke about how Hindu students have faced discrimination inside the classroom as well as outside.
“In a religion class I took last semester, an essay prompt conflated putting pennies on [the statue of Sullivan Ross] to the practice of leaving offerings on Hindu deities,” Gulati said.
Gulati said even before beginning her freshman year at A&M, she was harassed by fellow Aggies, constantly telling her to go to different churches or Bible studies. She said, in her opinion, there is a drastic difference between evangelizing and harassment. She defined this line based on both sides consenting to the conversation.
Constantly texting someone about different religious events when they show no interest falls on the harassment side of the line, Gulati said.
International affairs senior Alexia Hernandez said the fact the resolution took two meetings totaling more than four hours of debate to pass shows this is a major issue within the Aggie community and within the Student Senate.
“It is really interesting to me how in the first instance of accountability toward a culture of unwelcoming underrepresented religions there is all of this debate and defensiveness instead of just coming to the realization that this has been an issue for a very long time,” Hernandez said. “And it’s really telling that this body is so defensive to such a little thing that has been confirmed to be true and is not accusatory toward an entire group.”
Hindus in Bharat are fed the propaganda that their society and institutions are inherently discriminatory towards underprivileged communities (aka ‘Dalits’) and minorities. The fact that no Hindu ever tries to convert a person from the minority is concealed, because that goes against the agenda of shaming Hindus for their religion. Similarly, no general category Hindu has ever forced a ‘Dalit’ to exclusively follow Vedic/’Brahminical’ practises and give up their own Dharmic panth/sect, whether it is Ravidassi, Warkari, or Sarna.
General category Hindus don’t just ‘tolerate’ this Dharmic diversity – we respect and celebrate it! If one really wants to understand the spirt of Hindu society and Hindu Dharma, one should participate in the annual pilgrimage or ‘wari’ where lakhs of Warkaris cover a distance of over 225 kms on foot over 21 days to reach Pandharpur’s Vithoba Temple, in Maharashtra. All sections of Hindu society – rich and poor, young and old, illiterate and educated, men and women, belonging to all jatis and varna (aka ‘caste’) take part in this extraordinary religious experience.
Hindus are also fed the propaganda that we need to learn ‘religious tolerance’ and ‘secularism’ from the West, especially USA. The Christian roots of the Western world, especially the Anglosphere (English-speaking countries), and the way Christians are privileged in the West, is again concealed by our Hinduphobic elites. It is good that more and more Hindus living in the West, especially the younger generation, are sharing their experiences about the challenges Hindus face there.
Christian evangelism, or the belief that one’s religion and God alone is true and worthy of worship, is one of the leading causes of social disharmony and conflict across the world, especially in Bharat. All peace-loving people must come forward to challenge this supremacist and exclusivist world-view.
Maanya Gulati and Anu Khatri are true heroes, and full credit to those who supported them in passing this resolution at the TAMU Student Senate.