UT Austin, December 2023 Protest

December 2023
The University of Texas at Austin (Public college or university)
Austin, TX

Identity of Speakers

  • Evan Scope Crafts

  • Valkyrie Church

  • Sameeha Rizvi

  • Anonymous

Additional Information

  • Incident Nature:
    Rally or protest
  • Incident Political Orientation:
    Not Clear
  • Incident Responses:
    Student sanctioned
    University administration invoked formal speech code in response
  • Incident Status:
    No litigation
  • Was Speech Code incident


On December 8th, 2023, four University of Texas at Austin students protested, among other things, the November dismissal of two teaching assistants in the University’s School of Social Work. They accomplished this by hand-delivering a letter with a list of demands to Allan Cole, the Dean of the School of Social Work. According to the students’ attorney, George Lobb, Cole would not listen to the students and left the room. The students then left immediately, “without incident.”

However, the University paints a different picture. According to a University statement, the students “crossed the line of acceptable behavior and violated University rules multiple times this week,” adding that “[w]e are investigating and will punish those found to violate our rules, policies, or the law.” According to Lobb, the students were accused of disruptive conduct, unauthorized property entry, and failure to comply.

A UT spokesperson later stated that when the students entered Dean Cole’s office, the Dean was on the phone with a funeral home making burial arrangements for his father’s funeral. According to the spokesperson, Cole relayed this information to the students, but the students continued to read their demands, refused to leave, and allegedly tried to stop Cole from leaving. In a later email, the University stated that “[o]rganizing a large group of protesters to enter a locked building, barge into a dean’s private office, intentionally cause a disruption, and delay his ability to exit is unacceptable. These actions constitute a prohibited disruption.” Lobb maintained that it was all a matter of bad timing, saying that the students “aren’t of the character where they’re going to go in and read a demand letter like they did to a dean when he’s on the phone with a funeral home.”

Following the investigation, the students were charged with disruptive conduct, prohibited from contacting Dean Cole or any of his administrative staff, and required to write a reflection paper on their actions. Lobb states that the students chose not to appeal because they did not want to disrupt their studies. In addition, since the appeal would go through the university’s student appeal board, whose members are appointed by the University, Lobb believes that they would not receive a fair process.