AUSTIN, Texas – The University of Texas at Austin announced sweeping changes on Monday to promote diversity, inclusion, equity and more fully support Black students on campus.
The changes come after a group of student-athletes, including several football players, called on the administration in June to remove campus statues or rename buildings that featured racist figures or individuals who were proponents of segregation.
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The group also asked for more programs and funding, on and off campus, that promoted diversity and reached out to underprivileged communities.
Another key request student-athletes had was to discontinue the school song, “The Eyes of Texas,” which has ties to minstrel shows and was created during segregation.
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Interim president Jay Hartzell said Monday the song will remain in its current form, however, it will be sung moving forward “with a redefined vision that unites our community.”
Hartzell said the university will own, acknowledge and teach about all aspects of the origins of the song. Players are not required to stay on the field after games.
The university announced it will rename Joe Jamail Field at Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium.
It will now be named in honor of Texas’ two Heisman trophy winners, Earl Campbell and Ricky Williams.
The university will also erect a statue for San Antonio native Julius Whittier, the Longhorns’ first Black football letterman, at the stadium. Whittier attended Highlands High School and died in 2018.
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Away from the field, Texas will permanently honor Heman M. Sweatt as the university’s first Black student.
It will work students, faculty, staff and alumni to allocate a multimillion-dollar investment from Athletics’ revenue to worthy university programs that work to recruit, attract, retain and support Black students.
The UT Austin Police Oversight Committee will be expanded to include more community members and a broader range of students. Former Cibolo Steele High School standout Caden Sterns announced on Twitter that would be a part of the committee. Sterns has been one of the most vocal football players to bring about these changes.
Texas will adopt a university-wide plan to “recruit, develop and retain world-class faculty members who bring more diversity to our research and teaching missions.”
The university will also honor the Precursors, the first Black undergraduates to attend UT, by commissioning a new monument on the East Mall.