Students at the University of Texas at Austin are pushing for the removal of a campus statue of Jefferson Davis, who was the president of the Confederacy during the Civil War.
The recent mass shooting at a historically black church in Charleston, South Carolina has renewed the effort to have the statue removed, as an increasing number of citizens have also been calling for the Confederate flag to be removed from the Statehouse. Similar petitions are popping up in Georgia, Maryland, Minnesota, Tennessee and Virginia that call for the removal of Confederacy-related landmarks, writes Alexandra Svokos for The Huffington Post.
The statue was the subject of vandalism earlier this week, along with statues of Confederate generals Robert E. Lee and Albert Sidney Johnston. The words “Black Lives Matter” were written on all the statues in spray paint. The Davis statue was vandalized in a similar matter in March and April as well.
“We had a very productive meeting with President Fenves and are positive that there will be positive discussion and change on campus,” vice president of the UT Austin student government Rohit Mandalapu said of his meeting with university President Gregory Fenves, whom he met with on Monday with Xavier Rotnofsky, president of the UT Austin student government.
Prior to being elected, Mandalapu and Rotnofsky had listed the statue as a discussion point for their campaign platform, filing a resolution to have it removed.
“Statues are [a] means to memorialize and glorify the ideals and values of whomever they depict,” Mandalapu told HuffPost. “Jefferson Davis was someone who vehemently supported the institution of slavery and white supremacy. That is not in line with the university’s values and does not promote the ideals of a diverse and all-inclusive university.”
The student government created a petition to have the statue removed, which gathered over 2,400 signatures within three days, arguing that honoring Davis, who supported slavery, does not uphold the beliefs of the university, reports Ashley Goudeau for KHOU.
However, not everyone agrees with the idea of removing the statue. Some on campus feel that the statue should remain as a sign of respect for Davis, who should be honored for his role in history.
“It’s not consistent with our values as a university or student body, I don’t think, to glorify Civil War confederacy icons,” said student John Fuller, one of the signees. “Obviously that doesn’t mean we should forget the Civil War or what happened, but those things are better left in a museum and not in a position to be glorified.”