Greek Trees at Texas Southern University
On September 16th, 2015 a social media hashtag turned student led movement under the name of #TakeBackTxsu took over Texas Southern University. A student was disgruntled by the fact that her classroom materials weren’t up to date, preventing her from being able to receive the proper training she would need to do her job in the real world. She took to Twitter to voice her concerns attaching the hashtag #TakeBackTxsu. Students followed her lead and began to voice the various problems that they had faced since they arrived here at Texas Southern.
The next day the students took charge and organized a meeting on campus in front of the Sterling Student Life Center. It didn’t take long for the movement to reach the attention of the local media outlets, prompting the university to issue a public statement. The students also declared a personal vendetta against the Student Government Association, noting that they felt the student leaders didn’t have the best interest of the student body at heart.
One of the main concerns the students argued was the fact that Texas Southern University had lost its HBCU (Historically Black College & University) feel. In 2009 the Greek trees and plots in front of the student center were taken away. In 2012 they were replaced with benches behind the student center, which were barely utilized. In 2013, the university stopped allowing most social events on campus before 5pm and shut down a good number of events on weekends or late at night. Students felt like President John Rudley, who came from the University of Houston, was trying to model Texas Southern University after a PWI (Predominantly White Institution).
During the Take Back Txsu process, students presented a list of demands to President Rudley that needed to be resolved by a certain date. One of the highest demands on the list was the return of the Greek trees to the yard. Greeks felt as though once the Greek trees were stripped away, that took away from the culture and spirit of Greek Life on campus. Typically Greek life is a big part of campus life at an HBCU, especially at a university where only 5 out of 9 organizations in the Divine 9 are active. It was the belief that if the trees and events at 12 were brought back it would restore some excitement to the student body.
After the organizers of #TakeBackTxsu met with President Rudley he agreed to allow the return of the Greek trees under two conditions. The first was that the actual tree itself could not be painted or decorated. The second was that if an organization was suspended, the older members of the chapter who had already graduated would have to decorate it. The Greeks were overly excited as they began to decorate their plots to prepare homecoming, which followed the next week.