Longhorn Run raises funds and attracts protest

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Psychology sophomore Kerri Matulis and nursing sophomore Kristen Matulis warm up before participating in the two-mile portion of the Longhorn Run Saturday morning. The proceeds from the race benefit the Student Government and RecSports Excellence Funds.

Photo Credit: Gabriella Belzer | Daily Texan Staff

Campus fundraising efforts were met with both support and protest Saturday at UT’s second annual Longhorn Run.

Roughly 2,300 runners came out to participate in the event, which consisted of both a two-mile and 10K race, with proceeds benefiting Student Government and RecSports Excellence Funds, two University endowments that fund initiatives to better the community in their respective areas. Accompanying the race was music by UT’s Longhorn Band, the distribution of free merchandise by local sponsors and the setting off of “Smokey” the cannon by Trey Hardee, 2006 UT alumnus and professional decathlete.

“It was amazing shooting off ‘Smokey,’” Hardee said. “It’s always fun going to races and getting to do cool stuff like I did today. I love UT and any opportunity I have to stay involved.”

Amid these festivities arose political protest from the Make UT Sweatshop-Free Coalition, an affiliate of the national organization United Students Against Sweatshops.

Protest efforts consisted of flyer distribution, signs, chanting and the act of race participants veering out of the run just feet before the finish line, said Sophia Poitier, philosophy senior and member of the Make UT Sweatshop-Free Coalition.

“We’re here because we would like to see UT sign onto the Worker’s Rights Consortium, an organization that internationally monitors the working conditions of apparel manufacturers,” she said.

Three protesters were issued warnings for criminal trespass by UT police officers, one of whom was later arrested, said UTPD spokesperson Cindy Posey.

“The three protesters entered a restricted area and unlawfully hung a banner,” she said. “Initially, the officers tried to give them warnings, but when one UT-student protester refused to give officers his name, he was arrested for failure to ID.”

Brandon LaVoppui, mathematics sophomore and 10K finisher, said the protesters definitely made themselves heard.

“There were so many of them, I thought that the sweatshop movement was the underlying theme of the race,” he said. “Some of them even handed out flyers to us while we were running.”

Jennifer Speer, associate director of RecSports, said that despite the protesting she still believes the Longhorn Run was a success and sees a bright future for it in years to come.

“We hope to hit five to ten thousand participants next year,” she said. “With such a large alumni network and running community in Austin, I’m sure we’ll reach our goal.”

Printed on Monday, April 16th, 2012 as: Second annual Longhorn Run raises funds, attracts protesters