University of Texas announces steps to address athletes' concerns about racism, but will keep 'Eyes of Texas'
The University of Texas at Austin will rename the Robert L. Moore Building and erect a statue of Julius Whittier—the university's first Black football player—among other steps, in response to concerns raised by athletes about creating a more inclusive campus.
But interim President Jay Hartzell also said that the school will not replace the song "Eyes of Texas," though it would '[o]wn, acknowledge and teach about all aspects of the origins."
Hartzell announced the series of changes in an email to the community Monday, saying the intent is to make the campus more "diverse and welcoming." Hartzell wrote that he spent the last month speaking with student groups, alumni and faculty members about how UT can better support Black students. This comes after UT athletes published a letter urging the university to address its racist history.
"I went into [these conversations] understanding that UT has worked hard in recent decades to become a more diverse and welcoming campus," Hartzell said. "I came out of them realizing there is still more work to do."
According to Hartzell, just over 5% of UT students are Black, a statistic that has remained relatively consistent for several years, despite the fact that 13% of Texas's population is Black. In the past five years, nearly 2,000 Black students were admitted to UT through automatic acceptance for high school class rankings, but chose not to attend.
"Obviously, these talented students had many college options and made choices for a variety of reasons," Hartzell wrote. "Equally obvious to me is that many of those talented students do not believe our campus will be a welcoming home to them, and that we have not provided enough resources to ensure they will get all that is possible out of a UT education."
Changes on campus will include the following:
- Renaming the Robert L. Moore building, one of several buildings that students have long protested for being named after an outspoken segregationist. Other protested buildings and landmarks, such as Littlefield Fountain and the statue of Texas Gov. Jim Hogg, will remain on campus.
- Renaming Joe Jamail Field in honor of Earl Campbell and Ricky Williams—two "Longhorn legends"—at "the suggestion of the Jamail family."
- Adding a display and statue of Herman Sweatt to the T.S. Painter Hall. Painter, a university president, denied Sweatt admittance to UT's law school and the case went to the Supreme Court, where Painter lost.
- Adding a statue for Julius Whittier, UT's first Black football player.
- Committing to "own, acknowledge and teach about all aspects" of 'The Eyes of Texas,' the university's alma mater, which UT athletes called to eliminate for its racist roots and connotations.
Hartzell also listed ways in which the university will recruit and retain more diverse students and faculty.
I think this is a miss. A song is not more important than our students, no matter how much the old donors think it… https://t.co/UNZ8woyQBS— Robert Quigley (@Robert Quigley)1594661819.0
Even so, some students and faculty expressed frustration that some of the athletes' requests will not be met.
how are you gonna put a heman sweatt entrance inside a painter hall building and not see the irony in that???— jenny (@jenny)1594661137.0
This story has been updated with more information.
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Austin FC couldn't find the stamina to fight off a 2-0 loss against LAFC for their inaugural match on Saturday.
The match, which saw No. 21 Austin FC go head-to-head with No. 2 LAFC in Los Angeles, was broadcast nationally on FOX and FOX Deportes.
Salute the support. 👏
It's only the beginning for @AustinFC. pic.twitter.com/TduorqYr2y
— Major League Soccer (@MLS) April 18, 2021
Eleven players took the stage as Austin FC players for the first time, with five starters making their MLS debut. "Ringleader" Alex Ring took the captain's armband and wore it well. The defensive midfielder could be seen leading his teammates through their first ever match, but it wasn't enough to stage an Austin takeover in LA.
In the signature style of Head Coach Josh Wolff, the team played with quickness and intensity, nearly connecting on several fast breaks. It was harder for them to stay in front, however, something that Wolff credits with quick decision making and a tough LAFC defense.
"We have a quick attacking team, but I think when you make quick attacks and it fizzles it's just about some decision making," Wolff said. "Are we in position to finish attacks? If not, can we reestablish our attack and get stuff better?"
The club was given some generous breaks from No. 2 LAFC, who had one or both of their star DPs out for the half. While forward Diego Rossi is out for the entire match due to a hamstring injury, Carlos Vela was accidentally pulled too soon on what turned out to be a miscommunication.
"He gave us the sign that he needed to come off," LAFC Head Coach Bob Bradley said on broadcast. "I can't say more than maybe it's my fault."
LA pulled some dramatics and slowly gained more possession throughout the half, but ATXFC's defense wasn't initially as shaky as it seemed in preseason. Jhohan Romana has pulled his weight in getting the ball out of goal, and a 34-year old Matt Besler held his own in center back.
As the second half commenced, however, it became clear that LAFC had the advantage over Austin's first major league team.
Goalkeeper Brad Stuver had his work cut out for him, fending off 24 shot attempts, 11 of which were on goal. He didn't have much time to prepare, either: in the first 30 seconds of play, Stuver had already made a save to keep the match 0-0.
LAFC finally connected in the 61st minute of play as Corey Baird shot one into the bottom right corner. The team capitalized off their momentum and put one past Stuver a second time, drawing roars of approval from the LAFC crowd.
While some last-minute attempts from Jon Gallagher and others were made, Austin FC didn't have the endurance to bring a tie. After seven additional minutes of stoppage time, the club lost their first match 2-0.
While the scoreboard tells one story, Wolff said that the team did well considering the skill of LAFC and the pressure of their club debut.
"We've got to be realistic," Wolff said. "This is the first time this organization has been in front of TV with an opportunity to show itself and I think there were some promising moments. And we're going to maximize those and continue to try to develop those, but there's lots to build on."
The team may have lost, but it still won the support of thousands of Verde fans, dozens of which made it to watch their team's first match. When Stuver and the team made it to bthe stadium, Los Verdes fans were already there to show support, and Stuver said his wife saw the same back in Austin.
"The moment that we pulled into the stadium, we saw Black and Verde fans cheering us on as we got to the stadium," Stuver said. "During warm up, you can just look around and see different groups sitting in different sections of the stadium and it's just truly amazing to see the support in our first game. We know that we want to give the fans everything, because this we play for the city and we play for them."