April 13 update: The group has now raised $20,000 to benefit Texas Student Media.
Update 3:12 p.m. Thursday: According to Texas Student Media director Gerald Johnson, the organization has sold more than 371 shirts and has received more than $10,000 in donations.
Ever since President Donald Trump declared the media the “enemy of the American people” in a tweet last month, the phrase has taken on a life of its own.
The editor of Dallas Morning News wrote a rebuttal to the claim, detailing the lives and work of the newspaper’s employees and showcasing the work they do. The Washington Post took a similar approach, mentioning a decorated war veteran who now works for the paper. Journalists everywhere reacted to the tweet using the hashtag #NotTheEnemy and pointing out members of the press who lost their lives or put themselves in grave danger while on the job.
Texas Student Media, the group that oversees student media organizations at the University of Texas, is taking the phrase to the next level, emblazoning it across T-shirts and tank tops as a fundraiser for the organization.
“Enemy of the American people since 1791,” the shirts read.
Robert Quigley, a senior lecturer in UT’s School of Journalism, came up with the design for the shirt. He said he was “just playing around” on a T-shirt website and decided to share the design with his Facebook friends, and Texas Student Media director Gerald Johnson messaged him about the shirt, wondering if he was going to sell it.
“I told him he could have it,” Quigley said.
Johnson’s team at Texas Student Media built a website to sell the shirts and decided to use the proceeds as a fundraiser for the organization. The T-shirts and tank tops have been available for 24 hours as of this writing, but Johnson said they’ve already sold 187 shirts, raising $3,750 for the organization.
Johnson said at least seven other universities have shown an interest in participating in the fundraiser, and next week representatives from those universities will discuss a potential plan to begin selling the shirts.
Editor’s Note: Robert Quigley is a former employee of the Austin American-Statesman and the husband of the Statesman’s assistant features editor, as well as the former professor of several Statesman employees, including the writer.