Matthew Watkins, Texas Tribune, June 23, 2015
On the same day that three statues commemorating Confederate leaders were vandalized at the University of Texas at Austin, campus leaders said they may soon decide whether to remove the statues.
UT-Austin President Greg Fenves announced on Tuesday that he has formed a task force to study the issue. That committee will likely recommend a plan to Fenves this summer. For months, many students have been calling for the statues to come down. That idea has picked up support since the fatal shooting of nine people inside a black church in South Carolina last week sparked national debate about Confederate symbols across the South.
There are three statues commemorating Confederate leaders on UT’s South Mall. In March, the school’s elected student assembly voted overwhelmingly in favor of a resolution asking administrators to remove the most controversial one, of Confederate president Jefferson Davis.
That statue, plus ones of generals Robert E. Lee and Albert Sidney Johnston, were tagged with the words “Black Lives Matter” overnight Monday. The Davis graffiti also contained the phrase “Bump All the Chumps.” Maintenance workers had removed the red paint by Tuesday afternoon.
That graffiti has been accompanied by more formal outcry. An online petition asking for the removal of the Davis’ statue collected more than 1,500 signature within 24 hours Sunday.