Remove ‘The Eyes of Texas’ from the UT Class Ring

Sebastian Casas , Columnist

Editor’s Note: This article first appeared as part of the September 28 flipbook.

It’s been over a year since widespread media coverage of the racist history of “The Eyes of Texas,” UT’s alma mater, began. The conversation that the administration had with donors, instead of students or faculty, resulted in over $1 million being allocated to a committee that will “revamp” the image of the song, instead of removing it permanently.

The alma mater’s controversy has caused conflict between alumni and current students.  Last summer, UT President Jay Hartzell released a statement saying that we can “effectively reclaim and redefine what the song stands for.” Angry donors have threatened the University with pulling funds if the song is removed. 

Along with the discomfort that this song brings to UT students (especially Black students) knowing that donors come before students in the eyes of the University also fosters a sense of abandonment. As this discourse continues, the appearance of “The Eyes of Texas” on the UT Class Ring remains unaddressed, even while students are in the process of buying their rings this semester.

“The Eyes of Texas” continually ties the University to its racist past — it is played before and throughout every football game, rings every night from the UT Tower and is written on the gold letters that make up the class ring. If we, as a university, want to move past prior displays of racism and prioritize Black student voices, the song’s lyrics must be removed from the UT class ring altogether.

Computer science junior Nathan Demars expressed his discomfort with the University’s alma mater being engraved onto his class ring.

“I don’t feel comfortable, especially after learning all that goes on with that song, especially with the history, given the fact that (the song was used at) minstrel shows,” Demars said. “I believe that it’s not really being talked about … I feel like people won’t notice at first, but once they start getting their eyes on it, they’re gonna be like, okay, yeah, this needs to be taken off.”

While students can opt out of partaking in the song in other circumstances, like choosing not to sing along at football games, the engraving on the class ring is not something that UT students can opt out of without missing out on one of the most important benchmarks in a college student’s career. 

Students who are uncomfortable with the song face the decision of whether they should wear something that has ties to hateful minstrel shows or completely miss out on the traditional and classic class ring. This continues to alienate students of color at their own school and keeps them from feeling like they truly belong at UT. 

UT must eliminate “The Eyes of Texas” engraving altogether to allow all students to happily partake in a great Texas tradition. 

The president, administration and Texas Exes need to take the initiative and acknowledge that the damage done by the song extends further than playing the song. Proudly displaying these lyrics on the class ring continues to be a slap in the face to all who are aware of the song’s history, and to those it continues to affect. 

Casas is a government junior from Eagle Pass, Texas.