Racial issues are one again simmering the University of Texas at Austin.
Students marched on the UT campus earlier this week to protest what some are calling racially motivated attacks, where balloons allegedly filled with bleach were dropped from apartment balconies in the West Campus area near UT.
While the perpetrator or perpetrators of the attacks is unknown, and therefore their intentions are unclear, KVUE reports Austin police “have spoken to victims who were involved in four separate and similar incidents involving liquid-filled balloons dropped on people of color.” And the incidents have once again created a focus on racial climate for African-American students on campus.
“I won’t say that it’s easier being on campus, because people still look at you like you don’t belong here,” says Reva Davis, vice president of the Black Student Alliance. “And you can walk into a classroom and you’ll still feel uncomfortable — whether you’re a freshman or senior — being a person of color. It doesn’t get easier, you just find ways to deal with and cope with it.”
It’s not the first recent instance of hand-wringing on campus over whether UT needs to own up to a race problem. This spring, student newspaper The Daily Texan published a controversial editorial cartoon lampooning the Trayvon Martin case. The cartoon drew widespread condemnation, and ultimately led the Texan to report a special series dedicated to UT’s convoluted racial history.
Texas Exes publication The Alcalde points to more recent examples of tension on the 40 Acres:
A Sept. 20 “fiesta-themed” sorority party also drew criticism, and a Sept. 26 fraternity party titled “A Border to Cross,” at which partygoers were to cross an artificial Rio Grande river, was canceled. The three Greek organizations hosting the parties all issued apologies last week.
Last year, the University created a Campus Climate Response Team to help provide a better climate of acceptance. The group develops university policies and operates a referral service to report incidents of bias.