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Texas A&M announces task force to weigh removing statue of Sul Ross, Confederate general and former governor

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The Lawrence Sullivan “Sul” Ross statue on the campus of Texas A&M University. Shelby Knowles for The Texas Tribune

An ongoing struggle between Texas A&M students and university officials over a Confederate statue on campus has reached new heights in recent weeks. The university president on Wednesday assembled a task force that will ultimately decide whether to take the statue down.

The statue commemorates Lawrence Sullivan Ross, a Confederate general and former Texas governor that students at Texas A&M’s College Station flagship have zeroed in on as the campus' most flagrant reminder of systemic racism. Campus leaders have previously denied student requests to remove the statue, but A&M's President Michael Young announced Wednesday that he would be forming two groups in response to a growing body of accusations of racism on social media.

"Earlier today I met with Chancellor John Sharp to discuss continued racism on the Texas A&M campus," Young wrote in a letter. "We discussed posts on social media and emails shared by current and former students about their experiences of racism during their time at Texas A&M. It is time for a unified approach on how we address the representation of people who contributed to Texas A&M throughout our history and how we want to shape the expectations and behavior of our community to stand firmly against racism."

The task forces will be comprised of current and former students, faculty and subject experts. The first will focus on race relations at the university to "better address racist behavior." The second, termed a Commission on Historic Representations, will suggest appropriate courses of action for certain statues, monuments and buildings on campus. Young said he would ask this group to make a recommendation for Ross' statue in the near future.