Texas Southern University alumni aren’t sitting back and accepting the Board of Regents’ decision to fire TSU President Dr. Austin A. Lane. In fact, they’re organizing and planning to take their concerns to the governor’s office.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott may soon have a petition of thousands of TSU alumni. At the time of publication, more than 4,500 people had signed a petition to bring Lane back. And a Facebook group called #IStandWithDrLane has over 1,200 members and represents TSU graduates (but is not an official organization).
“#IStandWithDrLane is a message that we will stand with the president that was entrusted to move Texas Southern University forward and not backward,” said group organizer Victoria Gray, a 1994 and 2013 graduate. “This message is not just about the man himself but about how we respond in the face of unmitigated and unyielding tyranny, and how those tyrannical forces, are seeking to demean, deride, encumber and obliterate the spirit, progress, and tangible gains that Dr. Lane has made and has imbued within the consciousness, hearts, minds, souls, and DNA, of the second-largest HBCU in this country. Texas Southern University has moved the needle and it has charted an unshakable course…”
Organizers said the purpose of the group is to provide a strategic social media campaign to mobilize influencers to band together for a “very intentional goal-driven campaign and we hope that the TSU National Alumni Association will get behind us. We need the united effort more than ever,” Gray said. “Our plan of action is simple: gather the support to accomplish our goal!”
Group organizers are not gathering just to vent. They’re planning to put action behind their effort.
“We are in phase one, which is to mobilize,” said Gray, who was a one of the organizers of the social media campaign that led to the cancellation of the controversial “Sorority Sisters” reality show several years ago. “We are also looking for people to perform specific tasks: letter-writers, graphic designers, content developers for social media, fact-checkers, and researchers. And while we may be emotional about our university and driven by those emotions, we operate with strategy and based on the facts. We may have opinions, but they are informed opinions.”
Alumni have been seething since the Board of Regents placed Lane on paid leave and there are a lot of questions surrounding the decision. Lane supporters point to increased enrollment and graduation rates under his guidance. They also said what’s happening now isn’t good for the school overall.
“The university has been through some ups and downs and some turmoil, and we hate to have the name of the university stained with what is perceived as a scandal and it’s really not,” said TSU graduate Andrea Odom.
Many think the board’s decision was personal.
“It just feels like this is something board members personally feel toward Dr. Lane. It’s like they’ve lost sight of the overall goal – doing whatever is in the best interest of the university. And students and alumni are the university,” said TSU alumna Shera Jones.
Some TSU alumni said if Lane hasn’t committed a major infraction, he should be reinstated because he has done great things for the university.
“He has brought more life and re-engagement from alumni, from students,” Odom said. “[The homecoming game] is back on the yard this year for the first time in 12 years. There are so many positives, not to mention the foundation. The Maroon and Gray Gala itself, which was created by the Lanes, has raised over $2.5 million.”
- Put pressure on Gov. Greg Abbott to remove the regents. (The applied pressure is also designed to get them to resign.)
- Petition Abbott to remove the board chair on grounds of violating Texas Code Gov 5551.074.
- Allow alums who earned their bachelor’s degrees from TSU to hold regent seats.
- Reinstate Dr. Lane.
TSU alumni Town Hall meeting
Date: Saturday, Feb. 15, 10 a.m.
Venue: Pilgrim Congregational Church, 3115 Blodgett, Houston, TX 77004