Charles Murray

Photo Credit: Jonathan Garza | Daily Texan Staff

While the Civil Rights Summit kicked off its first day of events, students from University Democrats showed up outside the Tower on Tuesday night to protest a talk given by Charles Murray. Murray, a political scientist and author, is known for his controversial theories on social issues and race. 

The talk was hosted by the student branch of Texas Executive Council of the American Enterprise Institute on campus — a D.C.-based think tank aimed at exposing students to different viewpoints.

Mark Jbeily, Plan II senior and executive council member of AEI, said it was coincidental that the talk occurred on the same day as the Civil Rights Summit. 

“We don’t necessarily support Murray’s views,” Jbeily said. “We’re just here to give students a chance to ask questions and gain exposure to different viewpoints.”

Murray said he thinks people classify him as racist because his personal definition of equality is different from most people’s.

“Equality consists of treating people you encounter as individuals within the context of the different environments they grew up in,” Murray said. 

Michelle Willoughby, membership director of University Democrats, said she protested because she didn’t agree with Murray’s stance on equality and women’s rights.

“We’re out here to show that Murray is not the kind of person we want speaking in our Tower,” Willoughby said. “We believe that all people have rights regardless of race, gender or ZIP code, and Murray says you only have those if you’re a rich white man.”

According to University spokesman Gary Susswein, the Office of the Provost typically handles bookings for the room where Murray spoke — Main 212, where the Faculty Council usually meets — although Susswein said he did not have information on hand about who specifically booked the room Tuesday night. 

Susswein said the University does not support all the viewpoints of student organizations, but it recognizes the value of allowing different speakers on campus.

“UT-Austin values free speech and encourages a diversity of ideas and viewpoints on campus,” Susswein said. “At times, that means students and groups will sponsor talks by those whose views might be considered offensive to others. The University does not endorse the views of all of the speakers on campus, but we recognize the educational value of allowing many differing points of views.”

Protestors of Republican gubernatorial nominee Greg Abbott have long stood against Abbott’s citation of Murray in his educational plan, which opponents have claimed devalues pre-K education.

Joe Deshotel, Travis County Democratic Party communications director, attended the protest and questioned the timing of the talk.

“It’s a little ironic that [we’re] at a time when we’re celebrating 50 years of progress in civil rights, yet here, in Texas, women still make 77 cents on the dollar to a man,” Deshotel said.

The Daily Texan editorial board will publish a selection of tweets and online comments culled from The Daily Texan website and the various Daily Texan Twitter accounts, along with direct submissions from readers every Friday and, occasionally, in response to current events. 

Our intention is to continue the tradition of the Firing Line, a column first started in the Texan in 1909, in which readers share their opinions “concerning any matter of general interest they choose.” Just like in 1909, the Texan “will never express its approval or disapproval of opinions given under the [Firing Line] header.” In other words, take your shot. 

Submissions can be sent to editor@dailytexanonline.com. Submissions are edited for length.  

 

April 8th is the start of the Civil Rights Summit at UT-Austin, meant to mark the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The summit, comprised of afternoon panel discussions followed by evening keynote addresses, will reflect on the seminal nature of the civil rights legislation passed by President Johnson while examining civil rights issues in America and around the world today.

Also on April 8, UT-Austin is going to allow Charles Murray to speak on campus, sponsored by a student group. Charles Murray, for those that don’t know, is a conservative social scientist who believes African-Americans are, as a population, less intelligent than whites because of genetic differences and that poverty remains a national problem because “a lot of poor people are born lazy.”

To me, it is not only disgraceful to allow a such discriminatory views on campus but also stands completely contrarily to everything the Civil Rights Summit is supposed to stand for. I would ask that all of my fellow UT-Austin students, alumni and people involved in the Austin community send an email to UT-Austin stating how inappropriate it is to allow someone like Charles Murray to speak on campus, especially at the same as a Civil Rights Summit is being held.

As a current student, I would like to know who approved this event where a known bigot and racist is allowed to speak on a campus that supposedly prides itself on increasing diversity and being inclusive to all peoples. Is allowing avowed racists like Charles Murray to speak on campus how this university plans to kick off the Civil Rights Summit? How can minority students, like myself, feel respected and valued when UT-Austin welcomes people like Charles Murray here? 

I am a student and a veteran who chose to come to UT-Austin based on the principles that this school stands for and based on the belief that UT-Austin is a place where everyone is welcome. I will graduate in spring 2014 with honors and carry the name of UT-Austin with me wherever I go. It pains me to know that this school would allow someone who believes in a racial hierarchy of intelligence to speak here, especially at a time when we are honoring the legacy of a movement that fought for equal rights for all, regardless of color or ethnicity. I hope that in the future such events will not be allowed to take place again.

— Bernard Hayman, international relations and global studies senior, submitted via email