SAN MARCOS, TEXAS - In light of divisive rhetoric on Texas State's campus, nearly 800 people have signed a petition calling on university leaders to take proactive measures to protect minorities and underrepresented populations on campus.
"There are a lot of people on - campus who don't feel safe. And legitimately don't feel safe," said Ben Weiner, a graduate assistant who helped write the petition.
The petition may not garner the attention an on-campus protest did last month, but it may have a greater impact.
Weiner and other signees believe the university's response has not been tough enough, and are calling for further enforcement of current policies - as well as future changes to help protect students.
One example of the vitriolic tone they're seeking to rectify - flyers posted on campus calling for vigilante squads to tar, feather, and torture university leaders.
That drew the attention of Taylor Jones, a student development specialist at Texas State.
"This is something that affects everybody in the university community. There's not one part of us that experience something that is frightening and traumatic, that is not felt by a different arm of the body," said Jones.
For senior Keyanna Hobbs, she's sensed a change in the feeling on-campus since the election.
"That's not something that anybody would want to feel. And if the roles were flipped, they would definitely feel some way as well. So treat others the way you want to be treated," Hobbs added.
The petition calls for further protections for minorities and LGBTQIA students - in the form of resources and enforcement of current policies.
Wiener understood the university's need for time to review the petition, but believes some of the changes they're calling for can be implemented soon.
"The exact timeline is going to be debatable. But I do think that things certain things that can happen now, and certain things that we're going to be pushing for now. The idea of investigating whether they can sign this whole petition or this idea to the Trump administration of keeping DACA (deferred action of childhood arrivals). That's something we want to keep on following up on and making sure that that's actually happening. If we realize that's more of a stalling tactic, then obviously we're going to pressure them on that. But if we can tell there's a legitimate timeframe happening, it's possible that we'll let that workout," said Weiner.
It's also requesting the university's administration declare Texas State a sanctuary campus for undocumented students, workers, and community members.
"What we're asking for in the sense of a sanctuary space or sanctuary campus is to protect those who are already here, and clearly already functioning as a community," said Jones.
In light of Monday's attack at Ohio State - which officials say was carried out by a Somali immigrant with permanent residency status- we asked Weiner and Hobbs if they had any safety concerns with the sanctuary status.
Both said they trust the vetting process - both by federal and university authorities.
We reached out to university officials for a comment. A spokesperson informed KVUE that they are reviewing the petition, and could not offer a statement at this time.
To view the full petition, click here.
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