Students protest to hold Tejas Club accountable for sexual assault allegations

Tori Duff, News Reporter

A group of about 35 UT students protested Monday evening in front of the Tejas Club house  for the second time this month after demands related to sexual assault allegations against the group went unheard, protest organizers said.

The protest comes as the organization continues to maintain ties to multiple student members who have sexual allegations against them, protest organizer Amanda Garcia said.

Organizers are continuing to pursue demands from the last Nov. 23 protest where they called for Tejas members in positions of power to step down from their roles in other official UT organizations and asked University organizations to disaffiliate with the group both socially and professionally, according to previous reporting by The Daily Texan.

“We all here today have an obligation to ourselves, to survivors, to this organization, to this University, to hold ourselves and everyone that we associate with accountable for perpetuating and upholding structures of abuse like the Tejas Club,” said Mackenzie Smith, protestor and former student government advocacy director who stepped down this semester after other SG members refused to address sexual assault allegations against SG leadership.

Protest organizer Kaya Epstein said Tejas Club was supposed to have a general member meeting on Monday night, but it was unclear whether or not any members were inside the house. Epstein said they believed they were purposefully not there or had their lights off in possible anticipation of the group protesting tonight.

“They’re never going to hold themselves accountable, and the (UT) administration is never going to hold them accountable,” said Epstein, who serves as the Interpersonal Violence Coalition co-chair. “So accountability means us, the community of survivors, us, allies of survivors, being out here and making their lives more miserable than they’ve made ours.”

Epstein said they and other protestors plan to continue regular stagings in front of the house until the members of the organization meet their demands. However, Epstein said issues of sexual assault do not end with Tejas Club and are present in many campus organizations.

Garcia, a SG university-wide representative, said Tejas Club should be removed from campus because its current organizational structures are complicit in the silencing of survivors.

“People will say, ‘Oh, the Tejas Club has a chance for rehabilitation, for restoration, to be a positive force on this campus again,’” Garcia said. “To say again implies that they ever were.”

Tejas Club did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this article stated  Epstein serves as Student Government’s interpersonal violence policy director. The article has since been corrected to say Epstein serves as the Interpersonal Violence Coalition co-chair. The Texan regrets this error.