Thousands Sign Petition in Support of “The Eyes of Texas” at UT Football Games
By Bismarck D. Andino
AUSTIN, Texas — Students and alumni gathered Saturday at Cain and Abel’s sports bar to collect signatures for a petition to keep “The Eyes of Texas” as UT’s alma mater and play it at football games.
The song became a trending topic on social media after The Daily Texan reported that members of the Longhorn band were divided on whether to play the song at Saturday’s home football game against Baylor. The song has been debated due to its ties to minstrel shows.
Jenny Sykes Griffin, a 2004 UT graduate, said the song encourages unity.
“I went to the University of Texas 20 years ago and I feel the same way about it now as I did then,” Sykes Griffin said.
“It would be a shame to start ripping down our foundation now in a time that is so divisive when the University of Texas is so unifying.”
Even though President Jay Hartzell said the university has no plan to change the song, the Saturday afternoon gathering aimed to show leadership that many support the decision to keep it.
But senior journalism student Tiana Woodard said she believes the school prioritizes finances over the wellbeing of its students.
“People, for decades, have been telling you this is something that harms students,” Woodard said. “I don’t even understand why you would want that for your brand or associated with your university.”
Woodard said she doesn’t believe the song could be rebranded or repurposed for the sake of saving tradition because it sends the wrong message to the Black campus community.
In June, some football players asked for the song to be replaced with a new one that doesn’t have racist undertones. Some players even posted on social media asking the university to lift the requirement of athletes to sing the song after the game.
After the win against the Baylor Bears, all of the players stayed on the field as the song played over the stadium’s speakers.
Economics sophomore Josh Madden came to the Cain and Abel’s pre-game party in support of playing the song because it reminds him of UT football and what the university stands for.
“All my life, I’ve never seen it in a bad context, I’ve never learned it that way or it was ever taught to me that way,” Madden said. “I just think it’s all about the school spirit.”
The petition currently has more than 16,000 signatures.
“It’s been amazing to see so many names come in from across the state, across the country and even across the world. Men, women, different ages, to show their support for this issue.” Sykes Griffin said.
“We’ll love to see their comments, and we’ll love seeing people throwing their support in the different ways that they can.”