University of Texas to require band to play controversial fight song, will create new band for opposers

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AUSTIN, Texas (KXAN) — Members of The Longhorn Band will be required to perform “The Eyes of Texas” alma mater and fight song at future University of Texas sporting events.

NewsNation affiliate KXAN reports a new marching band, which will be created by the university beginning in fall 2022, will not be required to play the songs.

On Wednesday night, leaders from the College of Fine Arts, Butler School of Music and University Bands announced plans for the new band along with plans to provide scholarships and waive participation fees for band members.

The release says this new band will be for “individuals who want to perform in a marching band, with a focus on leading/directing bands and community engagement. The band will be an academic for-credit course through the Butler School beginning in fall 2022 and will not play the university alma mater or the UT fight song.”

The lyrics of the song repeat the phrase, “The eyes of Texas are upon you.” This phrase is believed to have been adapted from the supposed Confederate General Robert E. Lee quote “The eyes of the South are upon you.”

The Longhorn Band plays at “high-profile” events, alumni events, graduations and sporting events. The Longhorn Pep Band performs at basketball and volleyball games.

All students in the Longhorn Band, Longhorn Pep Band, Mariachi Paredes and the newly created University Band will receive a performance scholarship of $1,000 with band section leaders receiving a minimum of $2,500, according to the release.

The university says a scholarship will be honored for “any rising senior in 2021-22 who wishes to opt out of the Longhorn Band.”

In October 2020, The Longhorn Band director, Scott Hanna, said an internal survey revealed there weren’t enough band members willing to play the Eyes of Texas at the upcoming Longhorns football game due to its origins at minstrel shows.

The song was played off a recording over the PA system throughout the football season.

In March, a UT committee tasked with researching the song announced its findings, stating the intent of “The Eyes of Texas” was not “overtly racist.”

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