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Vandals spray paint high-profile UT-Austin landmarks demanding fossil fuel divestment

AUSTIN — Several high-profile landmarks and buildings at the University of Texas at Austin were vandalized recently with spray-painted graffiti demanding the institution divest from fossil fuels.

At least four locations last week were targeted with orange, black and white spray paint with messages such as “Divest UT From Fossil Fuels” and circles with an “X” through it.

Among the targets was a monument sign near Guadalupe Street in one of the oldest parts of campus, as well as on the brick laid around the statue of Caesar Chavez in the West Mall.

On the other side of campus, the word “Divest” was spray painted in black on the base of Nancy Rubins’ Monochrome outside the Norman B. Hackerman building as well as graffitied on the geosciences building.

The university’s media relations department did not respond to a request for comment from The College Fix seeking information on the costs of the damage and whether suspects have been identified.


Clean-up crews worked to remove the graffiti last week.

Jackson Paul, co-chairman of Young Conservatives of Texas’ UT chapter, called the vandalism “both immoral and counterproductive.”

“Not only does it harm our campus and insult the UT community in the name of a radical ideology [inimical] to human flourishing, but by increasing polarization, it interferes with efforts of people of good faith to have discussions on climate change, energy policy, and environmental stewardship. I hope whoever is responsible will leave aside their juvenile stunts and seek to productively engage with their fellow Longhorns on the relevant issues,” he said via instant message.

On Friday, a protest outside Gregory Gymnasium with similar messages took place. Demonstrators held signs with messages that read, “Roses are Red, Violets are Blue – Ban Fossil Fuels” and “Divest UT From Fossil Fuels.”

In 2022, the university hosted a debate on the issue of “University fossil fuel investment.”

The Oxford-style debate took on the topic: “Given the educational and research missions of universities, should university endowments divest investments from companies that extract, transport, refine, or sell fossil fuels?”

According to the Daily Texan student newspaper, the University of Texas system’s $42 billion endowment is heavily tied to the oil and gas industry.

“In recent years, following a worldwide trend for universities to divest from the fossil fuel industry, UT students have urged University administration to be increasingly transparent about their oil and gas revenues,” the Daily Texan reported in February 2023.

MORE: Professor: Vandalism, smoke bombs at Jewish leader’s home ‘pretty cool’

IMAGES: Megan Benton, courtesy photos / For The College Fix

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About the Author
Megan Benton -- University of Texas