Fox News reports that students at the University of Texas at Austin hope to rid the school grounds of the memorial, because to many it represents a dark past.
“We thought, there are those old ties to slavery and some would find it offensive,” said senior Jamie Nalley, who joined an overwhelming majority of the Student Government in adopting a resolution in March supporting his ouster.
The Huff Post adds:
But as students take aim at Davis, the number of sites in Texas on public and private land that honor the Confederacy is growing – despite the opposition of the NAACP and others. Supporters cite their right to memorialize Confederate veterans and their role in Texas history, while opponents argue the memorials are too often insensitive or antagonistic, while having the backing of public institutions like UT.
Others say that getting rid of the sculpture would be an overreaction and that it should be viewed as a monument honoring the sacrifice of soldiers and their families.
“It’s political correctness gone crazy,” said former Georgia Congressman Ben Jones, spokesman for the Sons of Confederate Veterans, a historical group.
Banishing the statue would be a “massive insult” to freedom of expression and Southern heritage, said Jones, who played Cooter on the TV series, “The Dukes of Hazzard.”
The student vote comes amid increased national attention on race relations, a dynamic caused in part by police shootings of black men in Missouri and South Carolina, the death of a black man in Baltimore from injuries suffered while in police custody, and a video of fraternity members at the University of Oklahoma singing racist chants.
Also this year, at the University of Mississippi, a student was accused of hanging a noose around a statue of James Meredith, the school’s first black student.
UT’s school newspaper, The Daily Texan, then wrote an editorial questioning whether statues of civil rights leaders, such as former U.S. Rep. Barbara Jordan and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., can coexist with those of Confederate heroes at UT.
The Jordan and King statues were erected in the last 15 years after student initiatives. The Confederate-affiliated statues, besides Davis, are Gens. Robert E. Lee and Albert Sidney Johnston, and John Reagan, a postmaster general.
In a second editorial, the paper called on the university to give Davis the boot:
“Removing the statue would not cause students and others to not learn about Davis; rather, it would allow them to learn about him the right way, critically and in a classroom.”
Mandalapu, 21, of Sugar Land, said confrontations on other campuses, coupled with events at UT, such as a racist border-themed frat party in February and a series of bleach bombings in 2012 and 2013, have fueled a more serious discussion about race relations.
“People are standing up and protesting and speaking about what is wrong and what is right, and the Jeff Davis statue goes hand in hand with that,” he said.
While the statues have stirred fissures, some in the UT community say they likely go unnoticed by most students.
Clark Patterson, a 1988 UT alum and photographer who responded in the campus newspaper, said the context of the statue and its history on campus should be considered.
But he’s not convinced removing it would change the environment. “I bet if you gave a pop quiz to students and alum, less than 3 percent could even name half of the statues on the mall,” he said.