Students will march through the streets of West Campus on Tuesday night to send the message that they will not stand for bias in the UT community any longer.
Former UT student Chas Moore organized the march, “Walk to West Campus: Standing in Solidarity Against Racism and Hate,” in conjunction with students from UT and Huston-Tillotson University as a response to recently reported incidents of bias in the area. Those incidents include several reports of students being attacked with bleach-filled water balloons in order to “white-wash” them as students of color, racial slurs being used in the West Campus area and ethnic-themed parties being thrown in an insensitive manner. Moore said he hopes the march will publicly shed light on these incidents and prompt members of the UT community to realize that bias is still a major issue at UT in 2012.
“We are not going to sit back and let things like this happen,” Moore said, referring to the recently reported incidents of bias.
Moore said he planned the march because he feels he has not seen a serious enough response from relevant officials in dealing with reported incidents of bias at UT. He said he wants to show them how widespread this issue is so they will be more inclined to take action when incidents of bias are reported.
“We just want the University to seem like they care about what happens to students of color,” Moore said.
Moore said one example of authorities failing to take an appropriate response to a reported incident was when anthropology sophomore Taylor Carr had a bleach-filled water balloon thrown at her car last month.
Carr said her car was struck with the balloon around 2:30 a.m. near the 26 West apartment complex, formerly known as Jefferson 26, located at the corner of West 26th Street and Rio Grande Street.
Carr said she immediately got out of her car and ran to a nearby Austin Police Department officer to inform him of the attack.
“He asked if there was any damage, and I said ‘no,’ so he refused to take any action in response to the attack,” Carr said.
Carr was unable to provide the name of the officer she spoke to, and APD was unable to find a report of the incident on file, although APD did find a report of a water balloon being thrown at a car in the same area at roughly the same time. APD said they were unable to identify the assailant in that case, and they believe the balloon was filled with water, not bleach, in that incident.
Robert Dahlstrom, University of Texas Police Department Chief, said his department, which operates separately from the City of Austin Police Department, heard about the bleach-ballon incidents recently. He said UTPD has taken measures to investigate the attacks, including reaching out to one of the students who said he was attacked with a bleach-filled balloon.
Dahlstrom said his department has been limited in its investigative efforts, however, because these attacks were not reported to UTPD, leaving them with little information to try and investigate the attacks.
“We’re very interested in helping students anywhere work through any type of case and this one no more or no less so than any other case,” he said. “We just need to know the facts so we can start working with the students.”
Dahlstrom said he urges students to report any illegal activity to his department so that it can be dealt with as effectively as possible and prevented from happening to others.
Moore, the event’s organizer, said he is happy that UTPD is looking into the incidents and hopes to see the same serious response to reports of bias from other relevant authorities, such as UT’s administration and APD, in the future.
Students participating in the march will meet at 5:30 p.m. at the Martin Luther King Jr. statue located on the East Mall near West 21st Street and Speedway.
Printed on Tuesday, October 2, 2012 as: Students plan march against bias