Overnight, the confederate statues at the University of Texas Austin disappeared from campus. In light of a wave of protests against memorials to the failed confederate state, citizens in cities across the nation are fighting to cast the spotlight of honor away from the United States’ dark history.
Included in that wave are San Antonio’s demonstrations in Travis Park, but UTSA’s campus is not part of the equation. Our lack of such memorials represent a clear slate.
UTSA does not yet have a statue of a historical figure. Therefore, we have the opportunity to memorialize someone, and we ought to.
A statue erected on campus says more about the university than it does about whom it’s in memory of. A young university grows into its identity; erecting a statue can spur UTSA’s growth in a monumental way.
This past summer, parents and incoming freshmen were charmed by our young university’s atmosphere and opted into our community. As they toured our halls and met our members, they began to understand what makes this university special.
Our ‘Runners take pride in UTSA’s modern architecture, paired with art installations like the “border crossing” statue by renowned artist Luis Jimenez and our iron Roadrunner by artist R.G. Box. What incoming students don’t see is a statue memorializing a figure in our history. Someone who embodies what this university aspires for or admires most; that is what a statue should mean and what UTSA should seek.
Before we set forth on our search for a figure that captures the Roadrunner spirit, we need to grapple with what that is. Much of our welcoming and engaging atmosphere is in thanks to our city—we should start there.
San Antonio is often described as a big-little city, and UTSA captures that description. We have the sheer numbers of a major city’s university, with our largest incoming class yet, but we also promote a welcoming environment that you typically find in smaller sides of town. UTSA has character that deserves to be characterized. Who can accomplish that?