On May 1, International Worker’s Day, we ask our fellow students to gather in downtown Austin at the intersection of 4th and Guadalupe Street at 6:00 PM as we protest the exploitative conditions enforced by this country, the city of Austin and the University of Texas against workers, undocumented people, and the people of oppressed nations at home and abroad, as in Syria. Building a better world for the people means nothing short of revolutionary action in organizing both on and off the streets. People power finds its most clear expression through the militant anger that people bring to these actions and can serve to embolden future organizing as well as demonstrate to the powers that be what the consequences of their failure to act will result in. This May Day, we hope to boldly show the city of Austin and our university that we demand protection for undocumented people and action against white supremacist organizing in addition to highlighting the role that UT plays in pushing forward the interests of US imperialism.
President Fenves said previously that UT has no legal authority to become a sanctuary campus, and cited his support of DACA as proof that he has the interests of undocumented students in mind. But we know from the example of our city government that UT does not lack the authority – they’re just scared of losing state funding like Austin did after becoming a sanctuary city. UT continues to prioritize growth and profits over its students that are in actual danger. Any student can see that these priorities are fucked up as, most recently, more of our parking is slated for removal so that a new arena can be built. As a result more students have to park further away from campus for the sake of UT’s profits. Regularly across campus essential resources are taken from us to make the campus shiny, enticing, and profitable. UT is terrified to lose funding that students rarely, if ever, benefit from in the first place.
Fenves’s fake ass solidarity through bare minimum support of DACA is already insulting, to say the least, but he does not stop there. At the infamous February town hall hosted by Fenves and three other UT administrators, he was directly asked why Confederate monuments remain on campus. In an effort to score brownie points with those who had asked for its removal, he made sure to remind us that he aided in the taking down of a single statue before saying all the other racist statues were, for some reason, “part of the fabric of our campus.” This was met with shouts of anger from students, but he still has not taken back his statement. Later on, he was given the name of a confirmed white supremacist student and still failed to investigate the evidence. He is unapologetic for the ways he upholds the legacy of white supremacy that saturates campus and permits the racism of the students that attend UT.
UT has always been a safe space for racist white students, where they’re allowed to develop fascist ideologies with no pushback. Professors encourage abhorrent ideas to flow freely for the sake of debate, while racist, imperialist, and Confederate legacies are upheld and praised constantly. With the election and inauguration of Trump, campus racists have been emboldened, posting up propaganda from white nationalist groups like Identity Evropa and American Vanguard. They have explicitly encouraged reporting undocumented students and praised the Muslim ban. They recognize that UT is a ripe breeding ground for their fascist ideology, despite their overall pathetic attempts to organize sympathetic students.
We must also keep in mind that not only does UT not object to the open support of these awful ideologies, but is substantially and materially invested in imperialism and the class conditions that allow these ideas to flourish. Across campus the US military is uncritically praised and its acceptance is pushed onto students. In fact, UT is the second most militarized in the nation, and the consequences permeate every aspect of campus life, from our war criminal Chancellor to flashy, expensive advertising for every military speaker that comes to campus. Many schools are explicitly or implicitly invested in teaching students to become new pawns of the US war machine. Multiple Arab students report being told or suggested that their language programs weren’t really for them, and that they should prioritize teaching other students Arabic so they can become translators for the military or CIA. Further examples of the US military’s handle on UT can be found at utwatch.org. UT’s motivation, again, is money – in 2000 alone the Department of Defense gave over $73 million to fund pro military programs at UT. Despite administrators’ mild disapproval of Trump, the support for the military he now commands has sustained.
Meanwhile, Trump has continued bombing Yemen, Somalia, Pakistan, Libya, Iraq, and Afghanistan, and has begun bombing Syria under the guise of “humanitarian aid.” We aren’t fooled by this, just as we weren’t fooled by his claims of focusing on America first and keeping out of other countries. International students, at risk due to the Muslim ban and these bombings, are being encouraged to remain in the US over breaks, to not risk refusal to re-enter. UT has no better response but to insist students should sacrifice home and family for their education in the US.
These are unacceptable conditions for students to live in. Undocumented, international, and immigrant students, along with all students of color, have been put in danger and often severely harmed by UT’s vested interest in imperialism, defense of its racist past, and refusal to investigate and punish racist students. Additionally, working class students continue to face the rising pressures of tuition, rent, campus accessibility, and the abysmal conditions of basic resources that universities should provide. RSF has, from its inception, set out to confront these conditions and to create real student power that can put lasting change into effect. We seek to stand in solidarity with each other as students and the working class on May Day. These issues cannot be solved with petitions, demands, or appeals to the humanity of our oppressors and their institutions – instead we must organize ourselves into a force to be reckoned with. Let’s show Austin our dedication and militancy this May Day by taking to the streets and spreading a message of solidarity with the working class and against all forces that seek to harm them!