Forum: Addressing racist threats on campus

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Photo Credit: Joshua Guerra | Daily Texan Staff

Both the winners and the runners-up in this year’s Executive Alliance election vowed during their campaigns to continue Kevin Helgren’s legacy of confronting racial harassment on and around campus. While both campaigns went further than Helgren’s by encouraging the University to curtail protected speech in order to do so — a position that both the Daily Texan Editorial Board and guest columnists Kat Taylor and Jack Cozort have criticized — we are encouraged by President-elect Alejandrina Guzman’s and Vice President-elect Micky Wolf’s willingness to wield Student Government’s powers of advocacy on behalf of UT’s marginalized students.

On that note, and in the wake of UT President Gregory Fenves’s introduction of a new hate and bias incident policy earlier this week, our Forum contributors discuss some harrowing experiences that religious minorities have experienced within the UT community over the past year, particularly following the U.S. presidential election.

Khadija Saifullah, an associate editor at the Texan, describes the experiences of Muslim students on campus and advocates for a more proactive University response to racial and xenophobic activity. Rachel Sasiene, the engagement chair for Texas Hillel, summarizes a few recent incidents of anti-Semitic intimidation directed towards particular students while calling for greater solidarity among oppressed communities. Both authors share the belief that SG and the University, despite their limited authority to enact change in this arena, owe students a speedy and transparent response to bias incidents as egregious as these.

We’re off next week, but if you’d like to contribute your take on this subject or any other, reach out to us at editor@dailytexanonline.com. As always, we look forward to hearing from you!

Shenhar is a Plan II, economics and government senior from Westport, Connecticut. Vernon is a rhetoric and writing sophomore from The Woodlands.