It Is A Sad Day To Be A Longhorn
As an alumni from the University of Texas at Austin, I couldn’t be more disappointed in the story making headlines across the country: Bleach Balloons Launched At Minorities At University of Texas. Throwing water balloons off of balconies is a typical college prank. I had a few neighbors who thought it was hilarious at 3am when girls were coming home from the bars. I, for one, do not think it’s hilarious if it’s not in good fun. If one of my guy friends got me with a water balloon on my walk home, and I knew he meant no harm, I would probably laugh and playfully call him a jerk. But throwing water balloons at strangers (probably accompanied by derogatory comments) is a form of bullying that doesn’t fall under the category of ‘practical fun.’ And bleach? Dangerous. At Minorities? Atrocious. Come on, Horns, you are better than this.
The University of Texas boasts a bold slogan: What starts here changes the world. I’d like to think we aim to be responsible for positive epidemics rather than prejudice and racial bullying. As a Texan in New York, I’m fully aware (and constantly reminded) of Texas stereotypes. We all ride horses to school, love Bush and speak with a hillbilly twang, right? My favorite part of telling people that I’m from Texas is the relief that comes across their face when I explain that I went to school in Austin. One look says, ‘Oh, thank goodness she’s normal.’ I take a lot of pride in the fact that I come from a liberal and progressive city full of forward thinking individuals. I wouldn’t trade my college experience for the world, and I’ve always been incredibly proud to say, ‘Hook ‘em!’ But this radical display of racial prejudice is downright embarrassing and contradicts all of the ideals I hold to be true about my school.
When I was enrolled at UT, minorities made up half of the student population. Did I mention we had over 50,000 students? Our campus was so diverse that I was hardly aware of the term ‘minority.’ One of my favorite things about going to school at Texas was the fact that individuals were judged based on ability over background and pedigree. It didn’t matter where you were from, it mattered what you could produce. Arguably, some exceptions to this rule may have existed in the Greek system, however I was not directly involved in any fraternities or sororities, so that information is hearsay, and I’d rather not speak to it.
Admission to the University of Texas is incredibly democratic. Despite obvious drawbacks of the Ten Percent rule (any Texas student in the top ten percent of his or her high school graduating class is automatically admitted), it does grant a spot to any student who earns one academically. No one’s wealthy or powerful connections can steal a deserving student’s place on our campus. I’m not saying these ‘political favors’ do not exist at the University of Texas, but at least they do not rob a worthy student of his or her admission. For the most part, everyone enters the school on an even playing field based on merit, and this fosters a healthy level of respect among peers. Or so I thought.
It’s unfortunate that the actions of a few ignorant individuals can taint a community that I considered incredibly open-minded and accepting. A community that looked beyond socioeconomic backgrounds, gender and sexual preference and saw human beings rather than stereotypes. I am so proud of the protestors who marched in defense of those targeted by the bleach balloons. That is the community that I know and love, and the community that I hope prevails as the majority rule. To that community, I say, “TEXAS FIGHT!”