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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