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UT Austin interim president responds to students' calls for diversity, equity changes

Last week, many student-athletes took to social media to call for changes regarding racial injustice at the university.

AUSTIN, Texas — The University of Texas at Austin's interim president has responded to recent calls from students, alumni, faculty and staff asking for changes to promote diversity and equity, including renaming certain buildings, creating outreach programs and replacing "The Eyes of Texas" due to racist undertones.

In a letter, Interim President Jay Hartzell said he has begun scheduling conversations, including with leaders of black student organizations at UT, student-athletes and other community members.

RELATED: Here's why Texas Longhorn athletes say the 'Eyes of Texas' song has racist undertones

"It is important, first, for me to listen closely – and then to work with the entire community to develop a plan to move the university forward," Hartzell said.

Hartzell said the university will create a plan this summer to "address these issues, do better for our students and help overcome racism."

The letter from Hartzell comes after a large number of UT student-athletes unified Friday to share a statement on social media calling for changes from the university in regard to racial injustice. The statement included calls for campus-wide actions, changes by the athletics department and changes regarding the university's entire black community.

RELATED: #WeAreOne | Texas Longhorn athletes demand changes from UT regarding racial injustice

"The recent events across the country regarding racial injustice have brought to light the systemic racism that has always been prevalent in our country as well as the racism that has historically plagued our campus," the statement read in part.

The student-athletes said if their demands are not met, they will continue to practice and participate in all required team activities for the upcoming season, but they will not participate in recruiting incoming players or in any donor-related events.

WATCH: UT's Emmanuel Acho starts 'Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man'


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