Earlier this month an anarchist group that consists of UT Austin students called the Autonomous Student Network shared a tweet threatening to dox students who considered joining the Young Conservatives of Texas and Turning Point USA during freshman orientation.
“Hey #UT23! Do you wanna be famous? If you join YCT or Turning Point USA, you just might be. Your name and more could end up on an article like one of these,” the tweet said, linking to previous doxxing posts of conservative students at the school. “So be sure to make smart choices at #UTOrientation.”
Last year the network released extensive personal information of pro-Brett Kavanaugh demonstrators at UT Austin, including their names, photos and contact information. It went so far as to post some of the phone numbers of the employers of students and encouraged its adherents to call them to get them fired.
Composed mostly of students at UT Austin, the group also actively encourages the harassment of conservative students, having praised the destruction of signs and tactics of physical intimidation during the pro-Kavanaugh demonstrations.
Based on its most recent tweet, it appears the Autonomous Student Network may be gearing up for another doxxing during orientation and beyond.
Asked if UT Austin will take any measures in response to the doxxing threats of conservative students by the ASN, the Communications Strategist of UT Austin Shilpa Bakre told The College Fix: “Students should never be targeted or face harassment for their affiliations, political beliefs or any other reason. The anonymous group behind this doxxing is not affiliated with the university, is not a registered student group, and should not present itself in that way. As they did last fall, University Police are continuing to work to ensure the safety of any targeted students and monitor for any potential criminal actions.”
According to a UT Austin spokesman in January 2019, the Autonomous Student Network is “not any kind of registered student organization.” But it claims to have partnerships with other Austin-based student groups and continues to call itself the “Autonomous Student Network-UT Austin” on its Facebook page.
In the past, campus officials have reportedly taken some actions to investigate threats against conservative students. University Police reviewed the incident in October 2018 of harassment against conservative students, which helped shut down the network’s original Twitter account and appeared to have reduced its use of university facilities, according to its Facebook page’s events calendar.
Despite the network listing a variety of campus events in years past on its Facebook page, UT-Austin spokesman J.B. Bird said officials are unaware of them.
“We have no knowledge of them ever having an event in a UT Austin facility,” he said in a telephone interview in The College Fix.
Despite this response by UT Austin, UT Austin Law School alumnus and contributing editor to Law & Liberty, Mark Pulliam, remains skeptical. He tells The College Fix, “UT has taken strong action in the past to prevent non-registered groups from posting notices on campus, but the Autonomous Students’ flyers are ubiquitous on campus. There is clearly a double standard.”
In reference to the doxxing threats from two weeks ago, he adds, “Unfortunately, I do not expect the UT administration to take any action. Under President Greg Fenves, UT has done little to protect the rights of conservative students on campus. When the YCT chapter’s rally in support of Brett Kavanaugh was disrupted by leftist protesters, Fenves was silent and the university’s belated response, by the Vice President for Diversity and Community Engagement, sympathized with the [leftist] protesters.”
In response to this, Bird said: “The flyers are not ubiquitous on campus. If they are ever put up, they are taken down immediately and I am on campus everyday.”
But some students also remain unconvinced.
The Chairman of the Young Conservatives of Texas chapter at UT Austin, Lillian Bonin, said “I definitely don’t expect the administration to do anything at all; the line of ‘well we can’t verify any affiliation with UT’ has become too easy and effective at making the problem ‘go away’ at least from their perspective.”
Although she does not expect any physical harm from the ASN, she tells The College Fix, “Speaking for myself as someone who has received an out-sized amount of doxing and backlash repeatedly, even knowing academically that the actual threat of anything happening is minimal (despite them actively making death threats and threats of violence towards us) the general feeling of discomfort and constant threat is very real and never really goes away.”
Other students at UT Austin said they believe that UT Austin should speak out against this incident.
A current student at UT Austin who wishes to remain anonymous due to privacy concerns told The College Fix that “I think the administration should say something about this, and historically I believe the administration has. I doubt much action will follow through though.”
When asked for a comment by The College Fix, the network did not respond.
Editor’s note: After publication, this article was amended to include statements from campus spokesman J.B. Bird, as well as a clarification that the network claims to be working with Austin-based student groups, but not necessarily ones on campus.
IMAGE: SFS / Shutterstock