A man holding what appeared to be a gun crashed a Zoom meeting hosted by University of Texas students about the school’s use of “The Eyes of Texas,” the latest in a months-long dispute about the controversial alma mater.
The event was titled “Investigating the Eyes of Texas: A conversation with Dr. Alberto Martinez,” and a statement posted on the event’s Facebook page acknowledged the “Zoom-bombing” incident.
“We allowed anyone to request to join the call because we wanted the discussion to be accessible to all members of the community,” the statement read. “Unfortunately, about halfway through the event, a man who was admitted from the waiting room turned his camera on to show himself loading a large gun. One of the moderators removed him as soon as they noticed, but we want to apologize for anyone who may have had to witness that.”
Martínez recently published “100 Problems in ‘The Eyes of Texas’,” an article that shows the divisive nature of the song, according to @CBS Austin.
The latest event comes as the Austin-based school with 50,000-plus students wrangles with the use of the song, which originated at a minstrel shows where students wore blackface, McClatchy News reported in October.
According to the Texas Tribune, those who give campus tours to potential students at the university are refusing to work this week due to “a dispute about a plaque with ‘The Eyes of Texas’ lyrics hanging in the Admissions Welcome Center,” as well.
Backlash to the song emerged during the civil unrest surrounding the death of George Floyd, a Black man who was killed after former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck for nine and a half minutes.
Students say a movement to get the song banned from the school is growing.
“I think this is the tip of the iceberg honestly,” Kendall Walker, a UT-Austin senior, said to the Tribune. “This is the beginning of it and people resisting that decision and not accepting a committee of people deem[ing] the song isn’t racist. There’s a whole generation of students and minority students that are equally and more mad than we are and don’t want to enter a space that predetermined their opinions don’t matter.”
One such protest against “The Eyes” occurred on Oct. 10, when after a loss to Oklahoma at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas, most Longhorn football players vacated the field following the game instead of staying for the traditional singing of the song.
After the action divided sides, UT athletic director Chris Del Conte told the team to “stand as one and sing,” McClatchy reported.
The virtual meeting disruption has been reported to the university’s police department, the Tribune said.
“Given the sensitive nature of the matter discussed on this call, we believe this was a targeted incident,” the statement said. “We unequivocally condemn the racism and violence that have been brought up in conversations about this song and again call on the university to remove the ‘Eyes of Texas’ as the official school song of the university.”