The fifth-ranked Texas A&M Aggie football team whomped Auburn on Saturday, 31-20. But today there’s a question of whether Aggieland is losing its soul.
Campus Reform tells us about student Dion Okeke (Class of 2022) finding himself on the receiving end of a threatening letter from one Jessica Welsch, who is Student Code of Conduct Office Assistant Coordinator. In the letter, Welsch demands Okeke’s presence at a meeting in January regarding an “incident” that occurred in November 2020.
Okeke’s crime? He placed Trump signs on campus prior to the election. The campus police were aware, and after initially trying to stop him on a claim of “ground damage,” allowed him to proceed. But they or someone reported him to the university, involving Welsch’s office.
Welsch wrote to Okeke:
“In response to this information, I would like to meet with you to discuss the circumstances surrounding this incident, your perspective, and how you can be successful as a student at Texas A&M University,” Welsch wrote.
Okeke is “required” to reach out to the Student Conduct Office by phone before January 22, 2021 to schedule the meeting, or an “administrative hold [may be] placed on [his] registration.”
Attendance at the meeting is not optional for Okeke as Welsch cites the “possibility of Student Conduct Code charges being brought against [him].”
The letter is a first step in a process that can result in punishments including expungement from the university.
Okeke leads Students for Trump, one of numerous student groups around the massive campus of some 70,000 students. These groups all place signs for various activities and causes on the campus, which is allowed. There are no reports of any other group being keelhauled before the Student Code of Conduct Office. It has a staff of nine including Welsch, and is looking to hire more students.
Okeke and his group appear to have been singled out. The Trump-supporting student is black.
Our Events Coordinator @DionCOkeke is also the President of @sft_tamu A month ago he put up Trump 2020 signs around campus. He was in full compliance with university guidelines yet the Student Conduct Office wants to charge him with disciplinary action. @TAMU your bias is showing https://t.co/z5g39Wuq3K
— TPUSA at Texas A&M (@tamutpusa) December 5, 2020
Assistant Coordinator Welsch has spent her university career as a monitor of student conduct at A&M, Appalachian State, and the University of Maryland. She says this in her LinkedIn profile:
I recently became a professional in Student Affairs, but my passion in education has been constant. As I work with students in Student Conduct, I thrive on the interactions surrounding ethics and value based decision making. My background in leadership education is deeply rooted in my philosophy.
Texas A&M’s record on student speech has been good up to recent times. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) lauded the school this year:
Texas A&M University ranked No. 3 in the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education’s (FIRE) survey of college students about their experiences with free speech on campus. FIRE collaborated with RealClearEducation and College Pulse to conduct the survey at 55 colleges nationwide.
But Texas universities are experiencing and even launching woke attacks on free thought and speech. The University of North Texas launched an investigation of a music theory journal and its editors for defending a 19th-century composer from woke accusations of racism. Texas State University’s student government attempted to silence Turning Point USA and kick them off campus.
Both of these universities have long been regarded as liberal and largely hostile to conservatives. Texas A&M, on the other hand, remains a top engineering school and casts itself as more conservative. For it to crack down on free speech would be a significant and alarming development.
Earlier this year, an A&M student perpetrated a racist note hoax. That student was not hauled into the Student Code of Conduct office by Welsch or anyone else.
This is so incredibly frustrating. The guy who faked a racist note on his car and caused national outrage didn't get a meeting with the conduct office, but students who placed Trump signs on campus (which is allowed) did. So disappointing. President Young can't leave soon enough. https://t.co/W0wt74vS9y
— Jessica O’Donnell (@heckyessica) December 5, 2020
Okeke’s disparate treatment isn’t going unnoticed.
Treatment of conservative students at @TAMU has become unlawful.
I know these students who are harassed, mistreated and doxxed because they are conservative.
Please help make this post go viral. #TAMUTruth
— 🌴PatriotAgg🇺🇸⏱⚖️ (@patriotagg71) December 5, 2020
— Old Row Texas A&M (@OldRowAggies) December 5, 2020
The Texas Legislature convenes its 87th legislative session in January 2021. It may be time to investigate tolerance for free speech on Texas’ taxpayer-funded public university campuses.