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UT Austin President defends actions during Wednesday’s pro-Palestine protest

AUSTIN, Texas — Some faculty members and students are continuing to call for the removal of University of Texas at Austin President Jay Hartzell. An open letter to gauge support for a no-confidence vote had around 300 signatures, as of Friday evening. UT Austin reports having 3,000 teaching faculty.

On Friday, Hartzell defended his actions during Wednesday’s student protest. A statement sent out by the UT Austin President calls what has happened over the past two days “challenging.”

57 arrests were made on the UT Austin campus Wednesday during a pro-Palestine protest. President Hartzell says the decision was made to bring DPS troopers on campus because protestors were trying to deliver on their stated intent to occupy campus.

The University’s decision to not allow yesterday’s event to go as planned was made because we had credible indications that the event’s organizers, whether national or local, were trying to follow the pattern we see elsewhere, using the apparatus of free speech and expression to severely disrupt a campus for a long period. Consistent with this broader movement that is impacting so many, problematic aspects of the planned protest was modeled after a national organization’s protest playbook. And notably, 26 of the 55 individuals arrested yesterday had no UT affiliation.” — UT Austin President Jay Hartzell

On Friday, Hartzell is continuing to face backlash for using state troopers to stop the student protest.

A post on X from the UT Austin Chapter of the American Association of University Professors says they are circulating an open letter intended to gauge support for a vote of no confidence in UT President Jay Hartzell.

“Last I checked, over 100 faculty had signed the letter that’s circulating and gathering more interest,” said UT Professor Alida Perrine.

Perrine is a safety monitor at Friday’s campus gathering. She says Hartzell needs to start listening to student demands to divest from companies manufacturing weapons for Israel.

“The email was completely inadequate. It was empty and did not justify at all the actions that were taken here on Wednesday,” said Perrine.

Jewish students on the UT Austin campus disagree and say the show-of-force of Wednesday made them feel safer.

“Nobody wants to walk on campus and hear hate speech on their way to class,” said UT student Caroline Ginsberg.

Ginsberg is a Jewish student and says Hartzell is doing what he can to help students get through the final days of the semester and prepare for finals.

“We have seen what has been going on at all these other universities and how disruptive everything has been. I think he is just trying to make the end of the year run as smoothly as possible,” said Ginsberg.

Source: CBS