- President Greg Fenves
Remove the Jefferson Davis Statue at The University of Texas at Austin
At the University of Texas at Austin stands a statue honoring Jefferson Davis, the President of the Confederate States of America during the American Civil War -- the man who waged a war against the United States to perpetuate the institution of slavery and white supremacy.
As students who walk on this campus every day, we no longer want to see a statue that glorifies the values of Jefferson Davis, who while leading the Confederacy, owned a plantation with over 100 slaves. This was a man who led an insurgency against our country, so he is an affront to all Americans. A public institution can choose what aspects of history to honor.
In response to massive support for removal from students and alumni and the tragedy in Charleston, South Carolina, UT Austin President Greg Fenves has convened task force to decide the fate of the Jefferson Davis statue. We want this petition to show the task force that there is strong support for the statue’s removal both on campus and beyond.
A national conversation is happening about the place for symbols of the Confederacy. In the same way that the Confederate flag projects values of racial hatred, the Jefferson Davis statue memorializes a man who stood for committing treason to perpetuate racial inequality and bigotry.
As students, we don’t want to erase history, but we also don’t believe it’s right for the University of Texas to display a statue that glorifies rather than teaches on our main mall. A museum would provide the Davis statue with historical context so it could be learned from instead of revered.
The University of Texas has prided itself as being a catalyst of progress, but it is impossible to reach the full potential of an inclusive and progressive learning institution while putting an idol of our darkest days on a pedestal.
- President Greg Fenves
Dear President Fenves,
We, the undersigned, stand with the students of The University of Texas at Austin and ask you to immediately remove the statue of Jefferson Davis from campus.
Statues serve to glorify and memorialize the values of what the subject stood for. Given Jefferson Davis’ vehement support for the institution of slavery and white supremacy, we believe this statue is not in line with the university’s core values—learning, discovery, freedom, leadership, individual opportunity, and responsibility. It is impossible to reach the full potential of an inclusive and progressive learning institution while putting an idol of our darkest days on a pedestal.
This year marks the 150th anniversary of Juneteenth, the holiday commemorating the abolition of slavery in state of Texas. However, it is apparent from headlines across the country that there is still much more room for progress. In light of recent events, there has been a national conversation about the meaning and place of the Confederate flag and symbols of the Confederacy. In the same way that the Confederate flag projects values of racial hatred, the Jefferson Davis statue memorializes a man who stood for racial inequality and bigotry.
Our opposition will argue that removal of the statue is attempting to “erase” or “rewrite” history. They will argue that the statue should be kept up for historic purposes so that we can understand our past. For that exact same reason we suggest that the statue be moved to a museum where history is preserved and studied. A statue, especially one so prominently featured at The University of Texas’ main mall, glorifies rather than teaches. A museum would provide the Davis statue with historical context so it could be learned from instead of revered.
President Obama, as well as former UT President Larry Faulkner, have suggested that a museum would be an appropriate context for Confederate iconography. Even recently, politicians on both sides of the political spectrum have come out against the public use of Confederate symbolism in society. This is a bipartisan viewpoint that reflects what our nation’s majority thinks.
Your presidency marks a new era for the University of Texas, and that era should ensure that campus is a welcoming place for all. We seek an immediate announcement from you that the statue will be removed before classes begin this Fall. The University of Texas has prided itself as being a catalyst of progress. As you begin your presidency, start with something that will change the world.
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