Latin word on UT Tower shooting memorial likely to be re-etched

Aaron Torres

The Latin word “interfectum” sandblasted on the UT Tower shooting memorial will likely be changed to “interfecti,” according to Erica Saenz, the associate vice president of diversity and community engagement for the university.

The Austin American-Statesman reported on Tuesday the word is grammatically incorrect, according to three UT professors in the classics department. But in a text, Saenz said “The word is not ‘an incorrect Latin word,’ but [a different word] is certainly a more appropriate suffix in the context of the memorial.”

In a text message, Saenz said “I am in touch with Cold Spring quarry and Cook-Walden and they will be providing some onsite revision options for administration and the committee to consider.”

In a separate email on behalf of UT, Saenz said the school is taking the suggestions from the classics professors to members of the Texas Tower Memorial committee for review.

“If the committee members feel a change is warranted, we are open to making one,” Saenz wrote. “Fortunately, the monument can be revised on site, if needed. We are resolving this quickly so the focus returns where it belongs, to honoring the survivors, victims and their families."

On Monday night, Lesley Dean-Jones, chair of the classics department at UT, emailed President Gregory Fenves saying, “Although there is only one word of Latin on the inscription, it is wrong. ‘Interfectum’ means ‘Killed’ as short for ‘It was killed’. ‘They were killed’ would be ‘Interfecti’.”

The email was forwarded to Saenz, who relayed the message to the Tower committee. Saenz informed the committee that, according to the professors, the word “interfecti” is better suited.

Saenz said the committee is open to considering changing the memorial, and a source with knowledge of the committee’s dealings said, “I feel sure the committee will accept what the Latin scholars demand.”

“Interfectum” was chosen by the committee and submitted to UT in the original design plans for the memorial in the fall of 2014. According to Saenz, the word was fact checked, and, Saenz said, UT also wanted to honor the committee’s selection.

There is no timetable for re-etching the memorial. The memorial was officially unveiled on Monday, the 50th anniversary of the shooting.