Students raised their fists in solidarity Tuesday night as they came together to discuss recent experiences of bias in the UT community.
Five student panelists shared their personal experiences with bias while at UT, specifically addressing the issues of race, gender and sexual orientation discrimination. Along with those students, the event, called “Students Speak Out: Racism and Oppression,” was organized by seven other students in response to two summer incidents in West Campus where UT students said bleach-filled balloons were thrown at them, an attack those students deem racially-motivated, terming it “white-washing.”
Anthropology sophomore Taylor Carr, who said she was hit with a bleach-filled balloon, shared the incident Tuesday in an effort she hopes will shine a light on the reality of UT community bias.
“I’m here to let you know that this has become a safety issue,” Carr said.
Carr said she thought the event was effective in raising the UT community’s awareness of these issues because it led to students sharing their actual experiences with bias.
“I feel better about people hearing me out and knowing that these things are real,” Carr said after telling her story. “We’re not making this up. These things are really going on.”
Exercise science sophomore Katie Waters shared her views on gender discrimination and said she believes women are often unfairly held responsible when a rape takes place.
“I’m not the only woman in this room who has been held responsible for men’s actions,” she said. “It’s my responsibility not to get raped? We live in a society that tells women not to get raped instead of telling men not to rape.”
Waters said it is important for people to understand that anyone can make a difference.
“You don’t have to be an activist to offer social change,” she said. “Social change starts with all of us.”
Doug Garrard, senior associate dean of students, said he hopes to meet with the students involved with the event to work toward a solution to these issues.
“We are going to meet with them just to kind of touch base and see how we can work together,” Garrard said.
Garrard said he believes the University should be working toward a solution to these issues, even though these events are often happening off campus in West Campus and other UT-adjacent areas.
“I definitely think if it involves UT students, then the University has an obligation,” Garrard said.
Lucian Villasenor, Mexican American studies senior, said he knows the fight for campus equality will be a long one but he has hope that it can one day be achieved.
“We’re not going to get the stuff fixed after a forum or a rally,” he said. “It’s a long-term struggle. The next step is for people to start getting involved with the day-to-day organizing.”
Villasenor said the concerned students who organized the event will now work mainly through campus organizations that promote equality to continue to spread their message.
Printed on Wednesday, September 19, 2012 as: Panel against bias makes headway