On Oct. 9th 2007, the Cesar Chavez statue was unveiled in the West Mall. The monument is especially significant, being the first statue on campus to depict a person other than a white male. The We Are Texas Too organization suggested that Chavez be honored for his remarkable dedication to defending the rights of minorities. With the support of the student government, the Chavez statue and the Barbra Jordan statue now grace the 40 Acres.
To celebrate a local hero like Chavez was a wise choice as the campus needed externalize the appreciation for diversity held by the members of the UT community. His impact on the community has had lasting impact. Dr. Margarita M. Arellano, associate dean of students and the Cesar Chavez Statue project coordinator, said, "It makes me especially proud to see that this generation of students understands, and has demonstrated through the Cesar Chavez and Barbara Jordan statue projects, that they value the diversity of people and ideas." The projects were initiated and funded mostly by the students themselves.
Due to the controversial and even radical nature of Chavez’s efforts, it is inappropriate to permanently embody this figure in one of the most traveled areas on campus. The fact that student government paid little attention to the divisiveness that would be sparked by such a figure surprises me. Subjects who are honored on campus should be only those personalities who have had a universal impact that a unanimous university group can agree fits the UT comportment as it has existed for over a century.
The Cesar Chavez statue in the West Mall area was unveiled in October of 2007 as the first sculpture of a Latino on campus. The statue development was initiated and funded primarily by students who saw Chavez as an important civil rights leader. He was chosen by the We Are Texas Too student organization for his activism in the rights of minorities and laborers and was strongly supported by members of the student government. The unveiling of the statue was accompanied by Latino cultural celebrations and speeches by faculty members of Mexican heritage, as well as a speech by the granddaughter of Cesar Chavez. Today, this sculpture continues to represent the rights activism and cultural diversity that students promote in the West Mall area.
The statue of Cesar Chaves is particularly fitting for the West Mall area because many the ideas that he symbolized are evident in the student organizations there today. As a civil rights activist, Chavez worked to improve the conditions of farm laborers through non-violent acts. As a Hispanic, he became an icon in the Latino community. These traits not only represent what student organizations at UT are trying to accomplish, but also set an example of what can be achieved through work as a community. Furthermore, the Chavez statue highlights his role in the Hispanic population and emphasizes the value of diversity amongst the student population.
However, Cesar Chavez never sought recognition and was even claimed to shy away from it. This statue, which glorifies his name and acts, may actually not be something he wanted. Other people may not appreciate the statue due to his stance opposing illegal immigration. While many Hispanics consider Chavez an icon in the Latino community, he was American born and therefore a legal citizen. Many other Hispanics rely on family members working illegally in America to support their needs and may feel he does not understand their perspective. Chavez’s viewpoint on this issue conflicts with diversity by discouraging immigration of hardworking Hispanic populations.
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Photo taken in University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX, USA
Misplaced? Suggest new location