Letter to the Editor

Brian H. Smith

To the students, alumni, faculty and staff of The University of Texas at Austin,

Today, for the first time in my life, I find myself ashamed to be an alumni.

I proudly graduated from The University of Texas at Austin in 2007. Throughout my time at Texas and throughout my professional career I have always taken pride, and even gloated on occasion, about the fact that I am affiliated with one the greatest universities in the world.

For as long as I have known The University of Texas, I have known it to stand for pride, honor and integrity; a true “university of the first class” as our charter so aptly states.

Today I find no such pride.

The recent events surrounding the statues of Davis, Lee and Johnston are nothing short of despicable, and we should all be ashamed. We have been taught that “the truth shall make you free,” but instead we deface with graffiti and we reply with snide, racist comments.

We have been taught that we are to change the world for the better, only through our positive actions finding the facts and the truth. We have been taught that our history is important, and that we are to keep that history. We have been taught that the world is ever changing, and that we are to adapt to that change. We have been taught to challenge the future with reverence for the past. But most of all, we have been taught to do all of this with pride, honor and integrity.

The situation at hand is difficult. I am not remotely qualified to either decide or comment on the appropriate future of these statues, but I do know that it is our collective responsibility to work toward a resolution abiding by the core values of this great university.

We should applaud President Gregory Fenves for upholding these values by appointing a cross-sectional committee to review these statutes in contention.  We should all demand and expect the committee to review the situation in a manner which befits our great institution. Most importantly, however, we should offer our opinions and objections as a learned group in a true, respectful fashion.

We are all drawn, at least in part, to this great university due to its values. These values are neither imprinted in stone nor are they written in the textbooks. These values are upheld solely by the actions of those who are affiliated with the university.

We are the thinkers and leaders of yesterday, today and tomorrow. It is our mission to take what we learned on the 40 acres and go change the world, and it is our mission to do that with the honor, pride and integrity for which The University of Texas at Austin stands.

Brian H. Smith graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering in 2007.