AUSTIN (KXAN) — The University of Texas at Austin will keep “The Eyes of Texas” as a school song, but will make other changes around campus to “promote diversity, inclusion and equity and to more fully support Black students on campus,” university leaders announced Monday.
The university says it will “own, acknowledge and teach about the origins” of the song as it moves forward “while partnering with the campus community to reimagine its future as a song that unites all Longhorns.”
One of the changes involves the “Tyler Rose” as the field at Darrell K. Royal Memorial Stadium will soon honor the Longhorns’ two black Heisman Trophy winners, Earl Campbell and Ricky Williams at the suggestion of Joe Jamail’s family, whom the field is currently named after.
UT will rename the Robert L. Moore building, put up a statue of Heman M. Sweatt, UT’s first Black student, and a statue of Julius Whittier, UT’s first Black letterman in athletics, among other changes.
East Texan (Arp H.S. grad) and Longhorns linebacker DeMarvion Overshown, who previously posted on social media that he would boycott all team activities until the concerns were addressed, retweeted the University’s statement on Monday with the message “ We Are One.”
Here’s a list of the changes and initiatives outlined in the letter from interim President Jay Hatzell. The letter, in full, can be viewed on the university’s website.
- Allocate a multimillion-dollar investment from Texas Athletics’ revenue to programs — on or off campus — that work to recruit, attract, retain and support Black students.
- Expand UT’s presence and outreach in Dallas, Houston, San Antonio and elsewhere to better recruit outstanding high school students from underrepresented groups.
- Adopt a universitywide plan to recruit, develop and retain world-class faculty members who bring more diversity.
- Refocus and sharpen the implementation of the university’s Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan, released in 2017.
- Expand the UT Austin Police Oversight Committee to include more community members and explore creative approaches to on-campus safety and wellness issues.
- Rename the Robert L. Moore Building as the Physics, Math and Astronomy Building.
- Honor Heman M. Sweatt, UT’s first Black student, in additional ways:
- Creating the Heman M. Sweatt Entrance to T.S. Painter Hall on 24th Street.
- Placing a statue of Sweatt near the entrance.
- Reimagining, redesigning and rededicating a major space in the building as an exhibit and gathering space where we will tell the story of the U.S. Supreme Court case of Sweatt v. Painter, recognize Sweatt’s courage and leadership in changing the world through the 1950 case that he won, and place Painter Hall within the context of the university’s resistance to integration under T.S. Painter’s presidency.
- Build new spaces and monuments for deserving, heroic Longhorns:
- Honor the Precursors, the first Black undergraduates to attend UT Austin, with a new monument on the East Mall, as part of a larger space dedicated to pioneering students and faculty members.
- Erect a statue for Julius Whittier, the Longhorns’ first Black football letterman, at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium.
- At the suggestion of the Jamail family, rename Joe Jamail Field at the stadium in honor of Texas’ two great Heisman Trophy winners, Earl Campbell and Ricky Williams.
- Educate visitors to the campus about the history and context of many of the names that will remain, such as the Littlefield Fountain, the statue of Gov. Jim Hogg, the Belo Center and the pedestals on which a series of statues stood until 2017.
- Own, acknowledge and teach about all aspects of the origins of “The Eyes of Texas” as we continue to sing it moving forward with a redefined vision that unites our community. “The Eyes of Texas,” in its current form, will continue to be UT’s alma mater, but the university will work to reclaim and redefine what this song stands for, first by owning and acknowledging its history in a way that is open and transparent, and then by partnering with the campus community to reimagine its future as a song that unites all Longhorns
The timelines and details for the above actions will be released in the coming weeks and months as projects get underway. Information about these initiatives and updates on their progress will be included on the university’s central diversity webpage.