About two dozen protesters marched down Dean Keeton and Guadalupe Streets on Wednesday in reaction to what they felt was a light punishment for a racially motivated attack in West Campus.
Mathematics senior Cody Young reported to the Dean of Students Office that he was attacked by junior Tucker Sauer last February, who threw glass bottles at Young and said “fuck you, n-----,” according to an Austin Police Department arrest affidavit. Last week, President Gregory Fenves announced Sauer has been suspended until 2017. However, some students said they feel the University’s punishment was not sufficient and that there should be established policies to discipline hate crimes.
African and African disapora studies senior Loyce Gayo said she felt the University is doing the bare minimum to address the issue.
“I’m fairly disappointed that the University is not looking inwards to make sure that they’re not perpetuating the racism,” Gayo said.
Fenves said last week in a University-wide email he would not tolerate hateful acts at UT and plans to bolster the commitment to transparency in the disciplinary process.
“We will make clear the consequences whenever UT students perpetrate violent acts of discrimination,” Fenves said in a University-wide email.
The crowd of protesters finished their march in front of the UT Tower. Mohammed Nabulsi, a second-year law student, spoke to the crowd of protesters and said the University’s policy is bureaucratic in nature and inefficient.
“UT doesn’t have a hate crime policy, which is a problem,” Nabulsi said. “Students of color have experienced hate crimes here.”
Nabulsi said the University should recognize and address hostility toward minority students.
“He needs to give more than empty words,” Nabulsi said. “Fenves needs to address the amount of hate some students get — including Muslim students.”
Previously, University policy conflicted with a provision in federal law known as FERPA that pertains to the release of and access to educational records. Now, the University plans to re-examine and change its policies on releasing student information about the punishment of students who have committed criminal acts. Fenves said he is working on getting those policies implemented as soon as possible.
African and African disapora studies senior Mae Rose Hill said she protested at the event because she is terrified at the state of the current campus climate. Hill said when her mother was attending college, similar instances of racial slurs and objects being thrown at minority students occurred.
“It just needs to stop,” Hill said. “She wanted me to come here because she thought it would be a better environment now, but it’s only gotten worse.”
Geography senior Frank Onuorah said he thinks the student’s punishment for the attack was too lenient.
“Essentially, they decided to temporarily ban this student from the University,” Onuorah said. “It made me question, ‘What kind of response is this?’ It’s not even a concrete way of how hate crimes should be handled.”
Many protesters were seniors, who are just weeks away from graduating. Gayo, who has been an activist for black student issues, said despite the workload of coursework she has and few days remaining as a student on campus, she feels it’s important to be vocal about the injustices.
“I owe it to so many black students before me for being here,” Gayo said.