The Young Conservatives of Texas is planning to press charges against non-registered student group Revolutionary Student Front, RSF, after numerous incidents of vandalism on their sign in West Mall.
The first incident occurred on Tuesday, when YCT’s wooden board was turned over and marked with propaganda for the RSF. An Adolf Hitler-inspired mustache was drawn onto Uncle Sam, the sign’s main subject. Thursday morning, the sign had the word “racism” written on it and most of its original content crossed out. Anti-capitalist group RSF did not respond for comment.
The Young Conservatives of Texas has filed a campus climate incident report as well as a police report.
Saurabh Sharma, director of events for YCT, said the decision to press charges is not about limiting RSF’s freedom of speech.
“We believe in free speech, absolutely,” biochemistry junior Sharma said. “It is RSF’s right to engage in political activism, but that crawled into criminality. This is vandalism of private property, and it’s a prosecutable offense.”
Sharma said YCT has not received any response from the UT administration besides verbal communication on Tuesday with Susan Buckenmeyer, director of student activities.
“We are not satisfied with the lack of response,” Sharma said. “We’re beginning to get the idea that the University is making a statement with their inaction.”
Sharma said because this is not the first time that RSF has violated University codes, he believes the University has been selectively enforcing policies.
“RSF is not a student registered organization and has been able to get away with tabling under the Tower,” Sharma said. “During Party on the Plaza, they took an empty table and moved it to an non-designated area right in front of us. … On Monday, we were passing out free pocket Constitutions and one of their members came and tore it up.”
YCT released a statement Tuesday night concerning the incident and reached out to administration officials, including UT President Gregory Fenves and UT Chancellor Bill McRaven. In April, Fenves released a statement saying that UT does not tolerate any vandalism or threats targeting students.
“What we ask is simple: Enforce the law,” Sharma said. “That includes at the police level to make sure vandalism doesn’t occur, and that includes at the University administration level that all student organizations have an even playing field.”
UTPD spokesperson Cindy Posey released a statement regarding the YCT vandalism incident yesterday afternoon.
“UTPD is investigating the case in question,” the statement said. “While we cannot comment on an open investigation, UTPD takes seriously any criminal complaint, including graffiti or vandalism on our campus.”
Business sophomore Ralph Lee said while he understands the reasons leading up to the crime, he still sympathizes with YCT.
“I understand conservatives are the minority at UT,” Lee said. “UT touts itself as a super diverse campus and claims to welcome people of any background, but these vandals are clearly intolerant of anyone whose views differ from their own.”
Lee said this incident and the vandalisms on multiple fraternity houses in April can have a negative impact on incoming students.
“It’s important freshmen and prospective students see that UT accepts diversity of thought,” Lee said. “Targeting conservative organizations in such an insidious way makes us seem closed minded.”