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The Longhorn Band will not play “The Eyes of Texas” during Saturday’s football game between the University of Texas at Austin and Baylor University after a membership survey found that several students are unwilling to play the traditional song alma mater, according to The Daily Texan.
The survey was sent to band members to ask if they would be willing to play “The Eyes of Texas,” a song that has divided the college community in recent months over its connection to the minstrel shows the performers wore. a blackface. The Daily Texan reported that a message sent to band members by frontman Scott Hanna said the results of the investigation would not affect whether the band performed in future games. The group has yet to play a soccer game this season, due to security restrictions linked to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Band members are “equally divided” over playing the song, the student newspaper reported, but responses from some instrument sections would prevent the band from performing this week. Hanna’s post said that many in the band wanted to have further discussions about the song, which he said he would facilitate.
UT-Austin president Jay Hartzell said on Wednesday night that a recording of the song will still be played in Saturday’s game and will continue to be played in future games and events. He said they hadn’t planned for the band to perform live this weekend.
“We knew this summer that by making our campus a more welcoming place, we would face a lot of difficult conversations,” Hartzell said. “I remain really optimistic that we’ll find ways to unite around our song, which has been so positive for so many Longhorns over the past 120 years. “
The song was played via recording in the first two home games of the season against the University of Texas-El Paso and Texas Christian University. Doug Dempster, dean of UT-Austin University of the Fine Arts, said in a letter in September that the band are expected to perform the song when they return in person.
The song gained attention again after quarterback Sam Ehlinger was pictured alone performing the song after the UT-Austin game against Oklahoma on October 12. Many players had already left the field. Ehlinger later said it was a misunderstanding and he was on the pitch talking to the coaches. But he said he sang the song because it made him feel a connection to his family and his late father, who he watched UT-Austin games with growing up.
The student-athletes have asked UT-Austin to drop the school song during this summer’s Black Lives Matter protests, among other demands, threatening to forgo participating in recruiting and donor events. The university responded with plans to increase enrollment and recruitment for black students, but it kept the song and is committed to educating visitors and students about its history and background.
“Together, we have the power to define what the eyes of Texas expect of us, what they demand of us and at what level they impose on us now,” Hartzell said in a July statement. “The eyes of Texas should not only unite us, but hold us all accountable for the core values of our institution. But first we have to own the story. Only then can we reinvent its future.
The removal of the song “The Eyes of Texas” was not the student’s only request this summer. Student-athletes and other groups also insisted that UT remove a statue of James Hogg, a prominent segregationist, rename some campus buildings to the names of Texans who had racist views, and donate 0.5% from the sports department’s revenue to the Black Lives Matter movement.
The university said it would add plaques to the statues to inform visitors about the Littlefield Fountain, Hogg Statue and the pedestals on which several statues stood until 2017. They also pledged to erect statues honoring black characters in UT-Austin history and to rename two campuses. structures, although we don’t know which ones would be renamed.
Disclosure: Baylor University, Texas Christian University, and the University of Texas at Austin have financially supported The Texas Tribune, a non-profit, non-partisan news organization that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations and sponsors. Financial support plays no role in the journalism of the Tribune. Find a full list here.