A three-decade tradition on the UT-Austin campus is going away due to concerns over racial insensitivity. The annual campus pep rally ahead of this Saturday's rivalry game with Oklahoma at the Cotton Bowl won't include the usual torchlight parade. The alumni group Texas Exes, which organizes the rally, has cancelled the torchlight portion due to concerns about similar tiki torches carried by white supremacists during a march that turned into a deadly riot in Charlottesville, Virginia last summer. "In light of the tragic events in Charlottesville, we will not be doing a torchlight parade," says Texas Exes spokeswoman Dorothy Guerrero in a statement. "This night has always been a positive experience for the UT community and it is paramount to us that everyone feels welcome, safe, and part of the Longhorn family.”
Micky Wolf, Vice President of UT's Student Government, tells KTRH he understands the decision made by Texas Exes. "Definitely, we're saddened to see this part of the tradition go away, at least for this period of time, but it's not worth the association with white supremacy that could come with those torches," he says. "We support the decision to make sure that all of our campus traditions are inclusive, and that the tradition is still continuing."
Wolf also notes that the pep rally tradition goes back much further than the torchlight parade tradition. "The torchlight part of the rally has existed for the last 30 years, and the other aspects of the rally have existed for 101 years," he says. "The rally still means the same to the student body, and still represents the tradition and the excitement that we have for the OU weekend game."