Ditch ‘The Eyes of Texas’

Morgan Pace

In the wake of the social justice movements happening across America, student-athletes at UT made a list of demands they wanted the University to meet. One of them was to discontinue playing “The Eyes of Texas” at school events. 

In his response to the list of demands, Interim President Jay Hartzell said, “‘The Eyes of Texas,’ in its current form, will continue to be our alma mater,” and, “We can effectively reclaim and redefine what this song stands for.”

But you can’t “redefine” a song that is inherently racist. A large group of people expressed their issues with the racist song, and our University president doesn’t get to determine if it is racist or not — especially if he is not the target of the racism. 

I urge Hartzell’s administration to meet students’ demands and not play “The Eyes of Texas’’ at our school events.

Hartzell had the chance to shift the culture of our school in a dramatic way. He had the chance to right a wrong — and he didn’t. Instead, he prioritized tradition over his Black students and reaffirmed the song’s place in UT’s culture.

The decision was met with a lot of backlash from students across social media. I reached out to Sharif Long, a biology and Plan ll junior, and asked how he, as a Black student, felt about UT’s decision to keep “The Eyes of Texas.”

“The message failed to transparently address the reasoning behind this decision and the barrier from getting rid of the song, which makes it difficult for student activists to hold those outside forces of power accountable,” Long said.

I tried to reach out to Hartzell directly but was forwarded to UT spokesperson J.B. Bird. 

“University leadership will continue to meet with students as the University seeks to own the history and, partnering with our campus community, redefine the meaning of ‘The Eyes of Texas,’” Bird said in an email. “UT has not issued, approved or received any recommended new polices beyond what was discussed in (the July 13) announcement.”

Students don’t feel the same way about “The Eyes of Texas” as they did before, and that seems to be hard for a lot of people to understand. A song that was once sung loud and proud by a whole stadium has changed. 

“Black students and allies have clearly advocated for reauthoring a song, so how does the University suggest we reclaim the lyrics of a song that Black students do not want or intend to reclaim?” Long said. “‘The Eyes of Texas’ and those who will continue to choose singing it will continue to make me feel unrepresented, unheard and uncomfortable as a Black student on this campus.”

A school song is meant to unite, not divide, us, despite all our differences. It’s meant to bring us together as Longhorns. A song with racist roots, as much as one might want it to, cannot genuinely serve that purpose.  

If the players you’re singing to at the end of a game have expressed they aren’t comfortable with the song you’re singing, what is the purpose of the song?

I encourage Hartzell’s administration to rethink its decision concerning “The Eyes of Texas” not because we’re in the middle of a very important social justice movement, but because it’s the right thing to do. UT owes this to its Black students, non-Black students and especially the Black athletes who make UT millions each year. 

Come up with a song that every Longhorn can be proud to sing from one end of the DKR Stadium to the other. 

Pace is a government freshman from Duncanville, Texas.