University of Texas band won’t play final football games over school song dispute

The University of Texas band won’t play at the football team’s final two games, as the dispute over “The Eyes of Texas” continues.

Several members of the band have objected to the song, which has ties to Confederate Civil War General Robert E. Lee and minstrel shows, and didn’t play it at the last game against Baylor. In October, Texas president Jay Hartzell said the song would remain and it was played over loudspeakers in the game against Baylor.

“There has been no change of status, and the university’s alma mater will continue to be played from loudspeakers at the game, not by the band,” Texas dean of the College of Fine Arts Doug Dempster said, according to The Austin American-Statemsen. “In-person instruction concludes on Nov. 25, after which UT students are expected to be off campus.

“The band will also not perform at the final home football game the day after Thanksgiving on Nov. 27.”

During the summer, Texas student-athletes raised the issue and called on the school to stop playing the song. It began in 1903 at a school minstrel show in which students performed in blackface.

Texas’ board of regents recently released a statement supporting Hartzell’s statement about the song, citing a “longstanding symbol” of the school.

“The Eyes of Texas has been UT Austin’s official school song for almost 120 years,” regents chairman Kevin Eltife said in a statement. “It has been performed at most official events — celebratory or solemn — and sung by proud alumni and students for generations as a common bond of the UT family.

“It is a longstanding symbol of The University’s academic and athletic achievements in its pursuit of excellence.”

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