UT Austin President ‘Categorically’ Rejects Hateful Emails

March 4, 2021

University of Texas at Austin president Jay Hartzell on Tuesday issued a statement denouncing several “abhorrent and hateful” emails from alumni.

Hartzell made his statement a day after The Texas Tribune published an article that included emails from many alumni donors calling on the college to keep its controversial song, “The Eyes of Texas.”

“People who target our students with hateful views do not represent the values of the Longhorn community. A few extremist views in the sample of emails The Texas Tribune reported on do not speak for the 540,000 proud Longhorn alumni who actively support our students and university. Out of the many emails I received this fall, a very small number included comments that were truly abhorrent and hateful. I categorically reject them, and they bear no influence on any aspect of our decision-making,” Hartzell said in the statement. “The fact that we don’t all agree on our school song doesn’t mean that we don’t all belong. Next week, the Eyes of Texas History Committee will release its report. Equipped with a common set of facts, we will then continue the conversation about our song. Having spoken to students and faculty on the committee, I truly believe we can be a model for how communities address complex problems and move forward together.”

In recent months, some alumni donors have threatened to withhold their support if UT Austin doesn’t keep its song and snuff out student protests against it. After Hartzell announced the Eyes of Texas History Committee, emails from alumni in favor of the song suggested he needed to be more aggressive. Several emails from alumni suggested that Black students should leave the college if they don’t like the song, the Tribune reported.

“It's time for you to put the foot down and make it perfectly clear that the heritage of Texas will not be lost,” wrote a donor who graduated in 1986. The donor's name was redacted by the university. “It is sad that it is offending the blacks. As I said before the blacks are free and it's time for them to move on to another state where everything is in their favor.”

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