AUSTIN, Texas (KXAN) — Statues of George Washington, Martin Luther King Jr. and Woodrow Wilson, can all be found on the UT Austin Campus. But another historical figure among them, has some students angry.
Now they’re one step closer to removing it from the 40 acres. This week, Student Government voted almost unanimously to remove the Jefferson Davis statue, located near the UT Tower.
Students like Xavier Rotnofsky and Rohit Mandalapu believe it represents our nation’s oppressive past. They coauthored the resolution passed by SG.
“We just found it funny,” said Rotnofsky. “A very racist man is still on a very prominent part of the university.”
“There are so many people on campus that are not only against it, but they’ve been historically affected by issues Jefferson Davis brought about.”
Come April, the duo will be stepping in as student President and Vice President. What started as a satirical campaign, finished with real issues being tackled.
“Jefferson Davis stood for some things that are pretty abominable today; Slavery, racism.” Rotnofsky believes. “They’re just not in line with the university’s core values.”
School officials say the statue was designed and built after WWI, alongside the Woodrow Wilson statue. The two are meant to symbolize our nation reuniting as one.
“The message of unity gets lost,” said Rotnofsky. “If anything, the unity that’s happening is the unity of students coming together in opposition to the Jefferson Davis statue.”
And true to their roots, the duo has an idea for what should go in its place.
“I suggest a statue of Rohit and myself, but that’s just a suggestion.”
Other students aren’t bothered by the statue, and say many historical figures aren’t perfect.
“The statue, I’m sure, wasn’t erected to celebrate the fact he was racist,” said freshman, Michael Tatalovich. “I mean, I don’t know. It doesn’t bother me that it’s there.”
Rotnofsky and Mandalapu say they aren’t trying to erase history. Rather, they’re trying to make campus more inclusive.
The last time students fought for the removal of statues, the administration added new ones like Martin Luther King Jr. and Barbara Jordan.
Next, student government will sit down with designated administrators to dig deeper in the issue. University officials say they will look closely at the resolution and input from students.