A week after government senior Bryan Davis was reportedly bleach-bombed in West Campus, public officials report that, while the search for the culprits is narrowing, the balloon might not have been filled with bleach.
In his most recent statement, Gregory J. Vincent, vice president for the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement, said early indications are that the balloon dropped last week was filled with water. Vincent added that the University has collected clothing and balloon remnants from the site and sent them to a lab for further forensic testing.
Last Wednesday’s bleach bombing comes almost a year after similar attacks on minority students were reported in the same area by the University Towers, a private dormitory on 24th Street. The attacks caused an uproar among students and led to protests and marches against racially charged violence. Similarly, members of the Black Student Alliance will host a rally in front of the Martin Luther King Jr. Statue on Wednesday afternoon to speak out against racial violence.
According to Vincent, University investigations of the previous attacks showed no evidence that bleach was used, and the students responsible for that incident were held accountable under the University’s disciplinary system. Vincent said throwing balloons filled with any substance is considered an assault, which is a criminal offense, and is punishable under chapter 11 of the University’s Institutional Rules and Regulations.
“Any person who believes such actions are merely schoolyard pranks is mistaken,” Vincent said.
Ronnie Davis, community manager for University Towers, said the apartment complex carried out its investigation in conjunction with police and University officials. Ronnie Davis said they were still trying to determine if the victim was targeted, and he is not sure if the incident was racially motivated.
“We are fully cooperating with the University and the Austin Police Department,” Ronnie said. “This kind of behavior is not something we condone.”
Ronnie said an official report was given to the Dean of Students detailing the names of the suspects, who will face eviction from Towers. He said that based on security footage and information from the victim, the suspects have been narrowed down to individuals from two specific rooms. Ronnie said the complex’s management is offering a reward to residents of Towers for any additional information.
Ronnie, who has only worked at the complex for a week, said he is unfamiliar with the party culture associated with West Campus but said he is aware of a long history of individuals living at the Towers throwing liquid-filled balloons at pedestrians — mostly girls. In light of the attack, he said residents will receive a letter explaining the “proper way to live at Towers.”
“We don’t want people getting the wrong impression,” Ronnie said. “This kind of behavior is not representative of the entire complex.”
Cpl. David Boyd, a public information officer for APD, said the department is still waiting for the victim’s official statement but added that a detective has been assigned to the investigation.
“It’s difficult to say whether this investigation will yield anything,” Boyd said. “Once the statement is made, then the investigation can proceed.”
Vincent said the University is “anxious” to receive the results of the investigation.
“The University of Texas at Austin has long been committed to promoting diversity and ensuring respect and inclusion throughout the campus community,” Vincent said. “Our University should be a haven and home to students of all backgrounds.”
Student Government President Horacio Villarreal called last week’s alleged bleach bombing an “unfortunate” occurrence. Villarreal said making the campus “inclusive” for students of all backgrounds will continue to be a priority and occurrences such as these are “antithesis to the unity that normally defines this campus.”
“I cannot speak to whether or not the individuals who are throwing the bleach bombs are acting out of racism,” Villarreal said in an email. “I can speak to the fact that our campus has become increasingly inclusive since I first stepped onto the 40 Acres … It is encouraging to see the campus efforts made by students across campus to bring light and attention to the incidents.”
Correction: In the August 28th edition of the Daily Texan a quote about racial insensitivity being antithetical to campus climate was falsely attributed. It was said by Gregory J Vincent, vice president for the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement.