Kevin P. Eltife, chairman of the UT System Board of Regents, was on the wrong side of history with last week’s public rebuke from the University of Texas at San Antonio President Taylor Eighmy and his decision to end for the school’s use of the “Come and Take It” phrase and flag during football matches.
Eltife, a Republican real estate developer, appointed by Gov. Greg Abbott and former state senator and mayor of Tyler, should also realize that he has accomplished little good with his statement on Wednesday, other than undermining Eighmy’s authority while fueling the forces that defend Texas’ exclusionary discourse. the story.
I was one of the countless Texans and UTSA alumni who adored the spirit of the ‘come and take it’ tradition, but I also learned a lot as the state, its history and its myths continue. to be subjected to long overdue challenges. . If at times the fairness pendulum seems to be going too far in a new direction, it is only because it has swung in the wrong direction for so long.
San Antonio and the college community must move beyond the controversy to maintain the remarkable momentum built under Eighmy, who celebrated four years of service on September 1. Building on the work of his predecessor, former president Ricardo Romo, Eighmy is leading a transformative expansion of the university’s downtown campus and pushing UTSA to new heights as a research university. . His tenure has not been smooth, but his vision has been widely adopted in a city where the four-year public university is only 52 years old and its downtown presence has long lacked critical mass.
The redevelopment plans for the Institute of Texan Cultures, the construction of the $ 90 million School of Data and National Security Collaborating Center, and the more recent agreement from the ‘UTSA with the Southwest School of Art, reflects the progress UTSA has made since hiring Eighmy.
Its leadership team includes well-respected athletic director Lisa Campos, who oversaw the construction and opening in August of UTSA’s $ 40.4 million Roadrunner Athletics Center of Excellence, or RACE. Head football coach Jeff Traylor, a football legend from Gilmer’s Texas High School, got the team on a roll that included his first bowl appearance last season.
The Roadrunners continued their promising start to the new season with an unbalanced 54-0 victory over Lamar University’s visit to the Alamodome on Saturday.
Eltife could score points for the UT system and for UTSA by finding time to attend the Roadrunners’ next home game as an Eighmy guest. A public gesture of support would help soothe wounds on all sides. He put the emphasis back on football games over football.
Eltife is a powerful state-level political actor, with close ties to the Texas Senate, where he served for 12 years, and with Abbott, as well as his authority as head of the Board of Regents. Hopefully his fellow board member, San Antonio businessman and entrepreneur Rad Weaver, will persuade Eltife that a public standoff with Eighmy doesn’t serve anyone’s best interests.
Eighty is left in an unenviable place. A vigorous public defense of his decision would upset Eltife and other conservatives at the top of state government. His own innocuous public statement reflected that:
“We greatly appreciate President Eltife’s perspective and appreciate the positive working relationship that exists between UTSA and the UT System Board, Chancellor and system staff,” Eighmy said in the statement.
While the flag and the historic events of the city of Gonzales that it represents are significant moments in Texas history, the state’s retelling of that story has long marginalized and demonized Mexicans and therefore Texans in Texas. Mexican origin, and has distorted their place in history. Such symbols, like Confederate statues, can perpetuate historical distortions.
There is plenty of room for nuanced debate around the history of Texas and its most powerful symbols, but if the use of the flag in football games serves as an unwelcome reminder of that distorted history in a dominated university Hispanic, so Eighmy was wise to suppress it.
The word ‘tradition’ is a bit overused here, given that the football program is only 10 years old and the use of the flag is only six years old. Many sports teams with racist mascots have resisted change for years, if not decades, but once that is done, life goes on. Building a new tradition at UTSA would be the best way forward now, with all parts of the “come and take it” fight rallying around a shared belief in the university and its athletic program.
I was not a fan of the football program when it was first offered, but the school spirit it inspired and its value as a recruiting tool for all students is undeniable. . UTSA football has been a game-changer.
Maybe “Come and take it” can become “Come and catch us” with a huge Roadrunner flag unfurled as the students run across the field and rally the fans. I am sure that students, alumni and others would provide creative alternatives if they were invited to do so.
Please feel free to post your proposal in the comments section below.