Opposing demonstrations clashed near the Sombrilla, resulting in a physical altercation and the involvement of UTSAPD officers on Feb 17.
One of the demonstrations was organized by Red Star Magazine, a self-proclaimed “anti-government, anti-police, anti-fascist online magazine.” Its demonstration was centered on four demands: raises for university workers; increasing funding for mental health and clinic services; no more tuition raises; and decreasing the salaries of high-level administration members, coaches and deans. Red Star Magazine is not a Registered Student Organization (RSO). However, UTSA students were involved in the protest.
The other demonstration was organized by a second non-RSO. The members in this demonstration held signs with messages such as “Don’t go to hell, Jesus wants you on the new Earth,” among other religious and political messages.
Chief Communications Officer Joe Izbrand provided a statement on behalf of the university regarding the demonstrations.
“A law passed in the last legislative session permits individuals and organizations, regardless of their affiliation, to come on college campuses and exercise their free speech rights,” Izbrand said.
The groups had been demonstrating separately until the Red Star Magazine demonstrators moved into the space that the religious demonstrators had been occupying. This is when the confrontation between individuals in the two groups began. Shortly after, a physical altercation occurred.
No arrests were made.
Izbrand further explained the university’s stance regarding freedom of expression at UTSA.
“We fully recognize that some in our campus community may object to the views espoused by certain groups, while others will agree with those views,” Izbrand said. “At times like this, and as we anticipate more campus activity in this year of heightened political debate, it is important that we foster a culture of tolerance for the opinions of others, even when they may be offensive or disturbing and not aligned with our core values.”
Izbrand then described what UTSA has been doing to foster civil discourse on campus.
“That is one of the reasons President Eighmy implemented the Initiative on Respectful Discourse,” Izbrand said. “It is intended to provide the campus with the tools and skills to engage in productive exchanges of views. Later this week, the university will be sharing updated information on that initiative.”