COLLEGE STATION — A Texas A&M University student at the College Station campus faces disciplinary action for placing political campaign signs in front of the campus Academic Building. According to A&M Student Senator Blake Martin, the student facing questioning is the president of Students for Trump at A&M, a four-year-old political organization affiliated with Turning Point USA, a national conservative activist organization.
Martin said the organization placed a few Trump campaign signs around the flagpole in Academic Plaza on Nov. 2, the day prior to the Presidential Election.
Martin said placing political signs on campus is common. The offense of the Students for Trump appears to be that the signs were on the right side of the political divide — and pro-Trump. Martin said the signs were standard campaign signs issued by the official Trump campaign. He noted that he had recently seen signs on campus promoting candidates in the Democratic Party or even socialists.
“This is bogus because there are plenty of other organizations that did the same thing,” Martin said. “We didn’t cause any damage to property and there were no physical altercations when we put the signs up.”
The president of Students for Trump, an African-American student named Dion Okeke, was sent an official summons to appear in front of the A&M Student Conduct Office.
“Information has been forwarded to the Offices of the Dean of Student Life, Student Conduct Office, regarding placing signs on public property on or about November 2, 2020,” stated the letter headed with “Personal and Confidential” and dated Dec. 3 that was delivered to Okeke.
More ominously, the letter signed by Jessica Welsch, Assistant Coordinator, Student Conduct Office, stated the office wanted to meet with Okeke to, “discuss the circumstances surrounding this incident, your perspective, and how you can be successful as a student at Texas A&M University.”
If this sounds like Okeke could be kicked out of college for placing Trump signs in the grass in Academic Plaza, he will if he refuses the meeting, the letter states.
“Please understand that if you choose not to attend this meeting, you will violate [university rules] addressing failure to comply with the direction of a University official and failure to appear resulting in the possibility of Student Conduct Code charges being brought against you,” the letter states. The letter ordered him to contact the Student Conduct Office by Friday, January 22, 2021, or an administrative hold may be placed on Okeke’s registration for classes for the next semester.
A&M was a polling location in Brazos County for the Nov. 3 election. Martin said the polls were open in Rudder Tower near the Memorial Student Center, a fairly good distance away from the Academic Building. On election day, Local TV station KBTX reporter Rusty Surette looked into campaign signs and supporters alleged to be within 100 feet of the polling location, a violation of state election law. Texas A&M police assured Surette that the campaign personnel for both sides were abiding by the law and were located outside the 100-foot restriction.
While university officials were keeping the area around the on-campus polling location clear of campaigning, no A&M official seemed to have batted an eye about a nearby anti-Trump student who displayed obscene signs, one reading “F— Trump.” A photo was posted on Twitter Nov. 4.
Martin said the double standard of enforcement of student conduct rules by university officials is all but expected. A student expressing his constitutional rights the day before the election by placing Trump campaign signs at the Academic Building is summoned to a hearing that could end his degree plan at A&M. Meanwhile, another student displaying obscene signs about the president of the United States near the polling station gets a pass.
“Calling Okeke in for a meeting with university officials for this is outrageous,” Martin said. He suspected a member of the faculty complained.
Over the summer, protests erupted in front of the statue of Lawrence Sullivan Ross located near where Okeke is accused of placing the Trump campaign signs. The statue is reviled by campus liberals and Black Lives Matter activists because Ross, who lived from 1838 until his death in 1898, for four years of his life in his mid-20s was a brigadier general and cavalry commander in the Confederate States Army. Ross is honored at A&M for his service near the end of his life as the president of the A&M College, and is credited for saving the institution from being closed down by the Texas Legislature. Still, leftist activists want the Ross statue removed because of Ross’ career as a Confederate officer that ended at his age of 26.
Okeke participated in the counter-protests over the summer, standing with former students who had gathered near to statue to show their support for keeping the statue. BLM protestors and student scholarship athletes aggressively harassed the Ross statue defenders. Okeke was touted by student protesters, too. At one point a BLM protester used the racial epithet, “coon,” against Okeke because of his support of retaining the statue.
“You are a coon!” said a young woman on campus. “I said that! And it’s a straight up fact.”
Martin said after the incident he arranged a meeting of student leaders that included Texas A&M Student Body President Eric Mendoza to find justice for Okeke and to hold the female student accountable to the A&M Code of Student Conduct. Martin said while the University leaders in the meeting weren’t dismissive of the allegations (after all, it’s on video), nothing was ever done and no official university discipline action was taken.
We have reached out to Texas A&M via voicemail and email prior to this incident and no one from the public relations department has returned our calls or emails. This was during the Ross statue protests over the summer.
A&M anthropology professor Dr. Michael Alvard was observed sharing the lead of the summer protests against the Ross statue when we visited the campus in July. Alvard is part of a renown group of leftist A&M professors and one among them, Martin believes, complained about Okeke’s Trump signs.
Over the summer, we reached out via email to Alford for an on-camera interview. He replied, “Tell Joe Hyde he can go to hell. You can quote me on that.”
The professor’s kind words are the most official statement we have ever received from Texas A&M.
Okeke is obtaining legal representation, Martin said. He spoke to Campus Reform's reporter McKenna Dallmeyer earlier today.
“The University felt it best that they contact me with the ‘Student Conduct Office.’ If this was just a means of wanting to talk or gather additional information the University should have contacted me with the ‘Student Life’ department, or the ‘Student Organization and Development Association,’ or the ‘University Police Department’ could have contacted me themselves,” Okeke said, according to Campus Reform.
Dallmeyer has more on this incident at Campus Reform.