Ebony S. Muhammad (EM): What exactly sparked the trending hashtag #TakeBackTxSU? What’s going on at the campus?
Andreau Berry (AB): Before I start I would like to say, that the #TakeBackTxSU Movement is not a movement to bash or portray a negative light on Texas Southern University (TSU). We, the students, love our school. We just want the administration of TSU to be better and really bring back “Excellence in Achievement”, while adhering to the concerns of their students.
With that being said, there were multiple issues that sparked the #TakeBackTxSU Movement. From financial aid and housing problems to the withdrawal of funding for renowned programs, these issues are plaguing the campus. One of the biggest issues was the new recruitment video where there were no black faces in the video. We, the students, understand wanting to provide diversity, but we don’t think it was proper to leave out the group of students that are the majority of TSU and why TSU is a HBCU.
EM: I saw that new promotional clip for the university, and you’re right there were no black faces! How does this make you and the other students feel seeing that?
AB: The recruitment video was a great idea. I do believe their intentions were that of promoting diversity but yet the administration needs to know that that did not run well with the majority population of its students. You can’t do that. Forgetting about a large portion of students to gain a few students of other backgrounds and maybe to gain more funding, was not the way to do it, at least that’s how I feel about.
EM: I was told that some of the programs at TSU lost accreditation? Do you think this is their method of re-attaining it?
AB: This could be, I’m not sure. However, working towards making the programs better and well suited for accreditation would have been better.
EM: When I attended TSU, about 12 years ago, my classmates were complaining about the same financial aid and administrative issues. I see things haven’t changed. However, to hear that students don’t have dorm rooms and some are sleeping in their cars… Is this true? Can you address both issues?
AB: I have heard a lot of alumni say they were fighting some of the same issues that we are fighting now. It’s sad. When I first heard a student say she was staying in a hotel, my initial thought was that it must be nice to stay in a hotel rather than a dorm on campus. I was far off. The more and more I heard students speak up about it, I realized that they would rather be on campus than sharing a hotel room with 5 or more roommates with only two beds and a couch. It is true that there are students who have to live out of their cars.
There are no dorm rooms available and students don’t have the funds to afford a hotel room. We were told by the president of TSU, John Rudley, that the new 800 bed dorm rooms were supposed to be completed before the semester started but the contractors had not completed them. My question is, why accept so many students when you can’t house them? Why continue to offer housing applications when you can clearly see beforehand that the new dorms have not been completed. To me, this should not even be a problem. Common sense should have kicked in.
EM: What has the response to all of this been like on campus? How are the students reacting?
AB: The students are responding and rising up so beautifully and powerful. It was students who created the #TakeBackTxSU hashtag. They are not allowing the administration to continue the same way and not hear their voices.
EM: How have the student organizations, such as the Student Government Association (SGA) and Greek organizations, stepped in to address these critical issues?
AB: On Monday, September 21, 2015, the SGA along with other student activists and campus organizations, hosted a student forum. It was for students only. No administration was allowed inside. That right there speaks volumes. The forum turned out to be one of the most powerful student led forums that I have ever attended at TSU. Alumni and students from the Thurgood Marshall Law School came over to attend as well.
Students were given the opportunity to come to the microphone and state their issues or problems that they were encountering. From nonworking water fountains to the inactivity of the Greek organizations on campus. This meeting lasted about 2.5 hours and the room stayed full with students. It was stated that there is a 5 page document with demands and solutions from the #TakeBackTxSU movement committee that will be presented to the administration.
The Board of Regents of TSU has even spoken up about the concern of #TakeBackTxSU. In their statement Board Chair Glenn Lewis said, “…the Regents are ready to hear student complaints and reach consensus with the university administration…The Board of Regents has asked Texas Southern’s administration to deliver a presentation to the board regarding student issues at its upcoming meeting on October 16.” So this movement is making strides in the correct way to get things done for the students.
EM: I saw excellent coverage you did while bringing awareness on campus regarding Justice Or Else, commemorating the 20th anniversary of the Million Man March on 10.10.15. What has the response been like from fellow students and faculty especially under these circumstances? Buy lexapro online
AB: Thank you. The response has been overwhelmingly good. It’s been great to get the conversation started about Justice Or Else. To hear students say they want to go and want more information about it has been great. The students are so excited and some have said they are telling their families about it too. The faculty, of course, are saying they remember the first Million Man March and how it is now our time to step up and make history of our own.
EM: Are there students interested in traveling to Washington, D.C. and attending the event on 10.10.15? Will there be transportation provided?
AB: Yes ma’am, there are students interested in going. Currently we have 200+ students registered and wanting to go. There is transportation being provided and we are working very diligently to lower the cost for students to attend. We don’t want the cost of the trip to be the only reasons students aren’t able to go.
EM: What are a few pre and post 10.10.15 action items for the college campus and its student body?
AB: We will be having a meeting with the students that are going to discuss the importance of the Justice Or Else movement. During this meeting we will present the students with a few unified wants and demands that represent our demographic of the Houston and surrounding areas. After 10.10.15 the work doesn’t stop. Buy paxil online
Our next goal will be getting our wants and demands implemented in our local government agendas and policies. However, one issue that keeps coming up is the violence within our own communities. We cannot continue to ignore it. So we are stressing the importance of our unity and brotherly love. Our demand of government must be backed by the power of our unity. Buy elavil online
EM: Where are things now with taking back TSU?
AB: It’s definitely still a hot topic on campus. Students are still very passionate about their stance. Surprisingly, the topic has been brought up by a few professors during class lectures. We all want our HBCU to be great again. Bringing back the culture, history and tradition of our campus is priority.
EM: Thank you so much for your time, hard work and being in the forefront of this struggle!
AB: Thank you for this opportunity to share my thoughts about #TakeBackTxSU and #JusticeOrElse.