Disassociate from student organizations with sexual assault misconduct allegations

Mia Abbe, Columnist

In recent weeks, the UT community has been watching the controversy unfold surrounding Student Government and their ties to the Tejas Club, a student social organization which has ongoing sexual misconduct allegations. Two executive members of SG, former advocacy director Mackenzie Smith and former chief of staff Meera Sam have stepped down from their positions. Additionally, a vote of no confidence against remaining executive board members Kiara Kabbara, Grant Marconi and Madison Brown occurred due to concerns over lack of communication and transparency regarding sexual misconduct and funding. 

While the Tejas Club member in SG did resign on November 1, the fact that there was any controversy surrounding this issue in the first place is very upsetting. If any organization at UT has sexual misconduct allegations, all other organizations should immediately disaffiliate from it until action is taken by the organization 

An example of this can be found in the spirit group community. Texas Lassos and Texas Sweethearts both officially announced their disassociation from the Tejas Club via Instagram on October 25 and November 1, respectively. A signed letter detailing the reasons behind the disaffiliation was drafted by Texas Lassos president Mia Cooper and signed by the presidents of several other spirit organizations including Texas Darlins, Texas Spirits, Texas Baseball Diamonds, Texas Lonestars, Absolute Texxas, Forever Texas, Texas Bluebonnets and Texas Royals. 

Callie Copeland, Texas Lassos sergeant in arms and advertising junior, said that after a meeting with other spirit organizations over the allegations surrounding the Tejas Club, it became clear that the club had a history of sexual misconduct allegations that had not been appropriately addressed. The Lassos executive board voted to disaffiliate for the fall 2021 semester, pending changes made by the Tejas Club. 

“It’s important for our community on campus to support survivors and that means if a student organization has multiple allegations of sexual assault in the past year, or at all, but especially when there’s one in the past year, that can’t be taken lightly,” Copeland said. 

Copeland explained that while many spirit groups have made the honorable choice to disaffiliate, other organizations have not done the same. Sororities, for example, are still having events with the Tejas Club. 

“We want this to be taken seriously and (the Tejas Club) need(s) the space as an organization to make the change,” Copeland said. “You can’t do that if you’re still continuing to do these things with other organizations. If they’re still able to operate as normal, then the impact isn’t really there.”

Other organizations must take a cue from the spirit groups who have chosen to disaffiliate. It sets an extremely harmful precedent to continue to associate with clubs who have not yet taken the steps necessary to amend their negative and potentially dangerous culture. Additionally, it is not right for student organizations to put their members in potentially dangerous situations by associating with organizations who have known allegations of sexual misconduct.

UT student organizations who have not yet done so should stand with survivors and disassociate from the Tejas Club. Furthermore, UT student organizations should disassociate from any student organization with sexual misconduct allegations, until the organization has taken steps to remove the guilty parties and ensure that an incident will never happen again. Otherwise, they threaten to set a worrying precedent by implying that a full social calendar matters more than the safety and security of their members. 

Abbe is a communications studies and government sophomore from Fort Worth, Texas.