SAN ANTONIO – UTSA president Dr. Taylor Eighmy responded Monday to an online petition asking for the immediate removal of the “Come and Take It” signage at the new Roadrunner Athletics Center for Excellence building on the university’s main campus.
UTSA held a grand opening for the RACE building on Wednesday and unveiled the new athletics facility to the public.
UTSA professor emerita Dr. Ellen Riojas Clark started the petition and wrote in part that the slogan, which references the Battle of Gonzales in 1835 during the Texas Revolution, “embodies both anti-Mexican and pro-slavery sentiments.”
Clark continued by writing the slogan “has carried those white supremacist beliefs from 1835 to today, and in that time has also been widely adopted by anti-government, pro-gun extremists, such as at the January 6th insurrection at the US Capital. Like the Alamo, the Gonzales flag is an open wound for many Mexican Americans, especially Mexican American Texans.”
The petition had been signed by more than 300 people as of Monday morning.
Eighmy responded with a message sent to all faculty, staff and students. He wrote in part that UTSA has “been very intentional about our trajectory as a university, especially around our deep commitment to become an exemplary Hispanic thriving institution for our current and future students, our faculty and staff, our alumni and our community.”
He addressed the concerns over the “Come and Take It” signage saying the tradition has started in 2011, the inaugural season of Roadrunners football and usage of the flag was approved by the Gonzales mayor.
In 2016, Eighmy said waving the flag at home games became a “fourth-quarter rallying cry” and a “tradition that has been embraced by many students, alumni and fans. From the beginning, ‘Come and Take It’ imagery has been widely used in social media, in Athletics’ promotional materials, and on its website.”
Eighmy wrote that the history of Texas is steeped in the tradition of the “Come and Take It” image, but “the image can have sharply different meanings for different people.”
“Recently, this imagery has been associated with some political movements and causes. It has even made its way into political protests on the grounds of the Texas State Capitol,” Eighmy wrote. “For these and other reasons, there are concerns that this tradition may no longer reflect its originally intended purpose of rallying football fans and is not reflective of our university, our founding mission and our collective values.”
Eighmy wrote that UTSA will continue to address issues by examining historical context, generating new knowledge and engaging in civil discourse to develop thoughtful solutions with students, faculty, staff, alumni and the community.
He also announced UTSA is establishing a task force, comprised of students, faculty, staff, alumni and community members, to explore questions about the imagery and help shape future traditions.
And for the time being, Eighmy said the “Come and Take It” signage in the entryway of the RACE building will include a highly visible sign that describes the origin of the imagery, the intention of the tradition and the concerns from within the UTSA community about its historical and recent context.