UT panel: 'Eyes of Texas' has 'no racist intent'

A committee charged with looking into the history of the University of Texas's fight song, “The Eyes of Texas," found that it has "no racist intent," but was used in racist settings over the school's history.

Faculty scholars, students and others argued in a 58-page report unveiled on Tuesday that while the intent of the lyrics was not racist in nature, the song has nevertheless been used in minstrel shows and in periods when Black students were not allowed on campus.

"These facts add nuance and richness to the story of a song debuted in a racist setting, common for the time, but, the research shows, was intended to parody the famous phrases of the university president," reads the report.

"The exclusion of Black students at that time presents an opportunity to think about how they and other communities of color have fought for inclusion and the work that remains to ensure all members of our community feel they belong," it continued.

The university's president, Jay Hartzell, commissioned the report in 2020 but the panel was not given power to remove the song as the school's alma mater. Hartzell announced last year that the song would remain, though he left open the possibility of reconsidering it based on the committee's findings.

“This report gives us a common set of facts for more conversations,” he told The Associated Press. “It’s possible the committee could have uncovered something that could have caused us to reconsider. It did not.”

Despite this, Hartzell said in a statement obtained by the AP that the school would not require players or students to sing the song.

“Nobody has been, or will be, required to sing the song,” Hartzell said. “That’s going to be going forward the way we continue to operate."

Reports emerged last week indicating that wealthy donors to the school threatened to withhold their gifts should the alma mater change. A former safety for the college's football team also said on Twitter that some members of the team who called for it to be changed were threatened. Players last year ceased singing the song after games, citing its history, but their new coach has said the tradition will be restored.

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