Texas A&M’s Student Senate has released results from a six-question survey sent to gauge opinions from current students regarding the Lawrence Sullivan Ross statue on A&M’s campus and its future presence at the university.
Results, which were released Wednesday, showed 54% of students who responded are likely or very likely to support no change to the statue, and 60% are unlikely or very unlikely to support removal of the statue from A&M’s campus.
Survey results also showed more than 50% of responses from students who identify as Black, Asian, Hispanic/Latino or as international students said they were unlikely or very unlikely to support the potential option of no change to the Sully statue. Further, 82% of students identifying as Black said they were unlikely or very unlikely to support the option of no change.
A full report of the survey results will be shared with A&M administration and to the student body.
“The Student Senate is the voice of the student body, which means it’s imperative that we check the pulse of that body to best serve all students,” said Zach McCue, speaker of the A&M Student Senate. “The Senate passed a resolution which acts as an executive summary and provides the full written report along with the data dashboard as well. The resolution will be sent to those who may have a say in the final decision. Our goal is to make sure that whoever makes the final call will not leave out the full student voice.”
Students were asked to respond to five different options:
• Adding a placard displaying the entire history of the statue;
• No change to the statue;
• Relocation of the statue to an on-campus museum or library
• Removing the statue from campus;
• Relocating the statue on-campus, not including a museum or library.
Students were given the rating options of very likely, likely, neutral, unlikely or very unlikely.
The survey showed strong engagement from A&M students with a 39% response rate (22,824 total responses). The survey was sent on June 12 to the 58,746 students enrolled on the College Station campus, both graduate and undergraduate, as of the spring semester. Survey responses also closely resembled A&M’s spring demographics.
“The biggest takeaway is that 22,824 students, or 39% of the student body, made their voice known on this matter. This response rate is higher than other surveys sent to the full student body,” McCue said. “The response rate was 39% which, again, is extremely high for a survey like this. That rate, combined with the demographic breakdowns provided by Student Life Studies, helps ensure that this survey is an accurate representation of the student body.”
Relocating the statue to another location on-campus, not including a museum or library, gained the highest response with 68% of students responding they would be unlikely or very unlikely to support this option. Students who supported relocating the statue to another campus location were asked to provide a desired location, and the most common response was the Cushing Library. Survey results said many responses didn’t list a new location for the statue, but added there is a desire to not place the statue somewhere prominent. The statue currently sits in front of the Academic Building, which is the oldest building on A&M’s campus.
Adding a placard displaying the entire history of the statue drew a 57% vote to likely or very likely to support. Moving the statue to a museum or library garnered a 51% vote of likely or very likely to support.
The future of the statue has been a subject of discussion and debate in recent weeks among current and former A&M students with different sides calling for the removal of the statue with others asking for the statue to stay. Multiple protests have been held at and around the statue in recent weeks and another, called Aggies of Color Coalition Protest and hosted by Black Lives Matter B/CS, is planned for 4 p.m. Sunday.
Ross was a Confederate general who later served as governor of Texas before becoming A&M’s president, serving from 1891 until his death in 1898. He is credited with saving the struggling university in its early years, boosting enrollment and securing additional funding to improve infrastructure. The statue was dedicated in 1918 in front of the Academic Building. A&M students have traditionally placed pennies on the base of the statue for good luck before taking exams.