Some University of Texas students are protesting the school's spirit song, "The Eyes of Texas."
Many consider the song racist, so students held a virtual event this week to discuss the issue.
A man wearing a bandana and wielding a gun crashed the event.
A man wielding a large gun crashed a virtual event last week in which University of Texas students were discussing the school's controversial spirit song, "The Eyes of Texas."
The virtual meeting was held on Thursday to talk about ongoing student protests against the song, which is traditionally played after football games but which many consider racist.
"We allowed anyone to request to join the call because we wanted the discussion to be accessible to all members of the community," a Facebook group called "Investigating The Eyes of Texas," which organized the event, said in a statement about the incident.
The statement continued: "Unfortunately, about halfway through the event, a man who was admitted from the waiting room turned his camera on to show himself loading a large gun. Given the sensitive nature of the matter discussed on this call, we believe this was a targeted incident."
The man reportedly wore a bandana across his face, and a moderator removed him from from the call shortly after he was noticed. The incident was reported to the university's police department, according to The Texas Tribune.
University of Texas students have been voicing opposition to the "Eyes of Texas" song since June, citing links between its lyrics and quotes from Confederate generals. They have also pointed to the song's early history: It is thought to have debuted at a minstrel show in which students wore blackface.
The protest efforts include a change.org petition by students, a second petition created last week that has 182 faculty-member signatures, and various social-media campaigns. Students employed by the university to give tours to prospective students also stopped working in protest.
In one especially noticeable action, the school's football players left the field after a game instead of staying for the song. At the end of that October 10 game, in which Texas lost to Oklahoma, all but one Texas football player refused to remain on the field while the song played.
The petition on change.org urged University of Texas administrators to "acknowledge the racist roots of 'The Eyes of Texas' and its origins from a reoccurring minstrel show on campus through a formal statement to the student body."
In response, the university released an investigative report in March that concluded the song did indeed debut at a minstrel show in which students "likely wore blackface." The report also acknowledged that former university president William Prather coined a phrase in the song from a saying used among Confederate leaders during the Civil War.
But the university has allowed the song to remain the school's official anthem.
The student protests have garnered backlash from some university alumni. After the football players left the field in the fall, some alums emailed the athletic department threatening to pull donations. Some even threatened to endanger the employment prospects of players who refused to stand on the field, the Tribune reported.
When the March report came out, university president Jay Hartzell said he hopes the community will eventually re-embrace the song, but he reiterated that no one is required to stay on the field when the song plays.
"I really feel for some of the vitriol [the student athletes] have faced and suffered from," Hartzell said. "I think it's unfair. They were doing what they should do. They used their voice, they took a step, and we're in a better place now than we were before because of it."
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