AUSTIN, Texas - A committee report on "The Eyes of Texas" will be released towards the end of February, says the University of Texas at Austin president.
In a letter to the UT community, Jay Hartzell said that he commissioned the committee to chronicle the full history of the alma mater to "better acknowledge, share and learn from the song’s history."
Students, including those in the Texas Longhorn Band, have voiced concerns about the racial undertones and history of the song. For years, "The Eyes of Texas" has been criticized for its connection to minstrel shows with characters in blackface in the early 1900s.
Last June, dozens of UT student-athletes released a statement calling on the University and Texas Athletics to address racial injustice, and on their list was "The Eyes of Texas."
The committee was formed in November after the university announced in July that "The Eyes of Texas" will continue as its alma mater, and also recognized that not all community members are fully informed or agree about some aspects of the song’s origin.
Four charges were issued to the committee:
- Collect and document the facts of the origin, the creators’ intent, and the elements of "The Eyes of Texas," including the lyrics and music
- Examine the university’s historical institutional use and performance of "The Eyes of Texas"
- Chronicle the historical usage of "The Eyes of Texas" by UT students, staff, faculty, and alumni as well as its usage in broader cultural events such as film, literature, and popular media
- Recommend potential communication tactics and/or strategies to memorialize the history of "The Eyes of Texas"
In addition to this, Hartzell outlined other steps he says the university has taken to address diversity, equity, and inclusion at UT Austin as well as the fact that UT Austin saw record high Black and Hispanic undergraduate enrollment in fall 2020 and a record number of freshman applications, including from Black and Hispanic students, for fall 2021.