Since the shooting in Charleston, South Carolina, last month, discussions and actions have focused on removing Confederate symbols. While UT has formed a task force to address issues surrounding the Jefferson Davis statue, one piece of Confederate history in the heart of the Tower has not received the same attention.
In the main atrium of the Life Science Library, located within the Tower, the nations that made up a part of the “Six Flags over Texas” are represented by their coat of arms and the relevant constitutional preamble — including that of the Confederate Constitution.
Some people may not be familiar with the Confederate Preamble in the library. When asked about it, Student Government Vice President Rohit Mandalapu and University spokesman Gary Susswein did not know about its existence.
Gregory Vincent, chair of the task force to review the statues, said the purpose of the Confederate Preamble in the library is to represent the history of the state and is not the same as statues.
“I am an adopted Texan, but I had heard of the ‘Six Flags over Texas’ and it representing the different governing structures,” Vincent said. “That is very different than [the statues] we are talking about.”
Vincent said he spoke with representatives from the library and there have not been any complaints about the Preamble thus far.
Marshall Davis, a spokesman for the Texas Sons of Confederate Veterans, said people should leave the Preamble alone in the library. Davis said the Confederate Preamble should not be removed from the library because it is not much different than the United States Preamble.
“The only difference in the Confederate [Preamble is] the extended sovereignty of the states,” Davis said. “Once [Abraham] Lincoln denied the states their rights, the Southern states left to have this.”
Justin Nguyen, senior in the College of Natural Sciences and employee at the library, said he had not noticed the Confederate Preamble before. He said the Preamble on the wall is used to teach history without honoring the Confederacy.
“This is different from what is out on the South Mall,” Nguyen said. “What Littlefield created there was used to honor men and not the history. It is one thing if it going to used to teach history but to honor something means you are walking on thin ice.”
Biology senior Melinda Lawrence said she walks into the library everyday to study but had not noticed the writing before. Lawrence said it is disturbing to see so many Confederate symbols on the UT campus.
“Walking around campus and seeing nothing but Confederacy related images,” Lawrence said. “It is disturbing. At the time the statues or writing were put in place, it was normal, but you would have thought Texas would be above the Confederacy and be a part of the United States.”
Lawrence said, growing up in West Virginia she thought supporting the Confederacy was okay. Until she came to UT, she said, she did not recognize the meaning of the Confederacy and how hurtful it can be for some people.
“If these kinds of things on campus can elicit emotions from people, then it should go,” Lawrence said. “Why would you want to keep something that is hurtful?”