Student-created petition calls for removal of Young Conservatives of Texas from campus

Van Nguyen

A student-created petition calling for the University to suspend Young Conservatives of Texas as a result of their anti-affirmative action bake sale has gathered more than 800 signatures, while the Campus Climate Response Team has received 178 complaints in relation to the event.

Baked goods were sold based on the purchaser’s race and ethnicity. "Hispanics," "Native Americans" and "African Americans" were sold goods at lower prices compared to "Asians" and "Whites," who were given the highest prices.

The 178 reports were filed on the day of the bake sale and more were filed yesterday, according to Leslie Blair, executive director of communications for the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement. Blair said on average, less than one report is filed per day.

YCT did not respond for comment at the time this article was published.

According to a YCT press release Wednesday, the bake sale was held to bring attention to the “absurdity” of giving preferential treatment to individuals based on race, ethnicity or gender.

“YCT-UT will not be deterred by liberal elites that would love nothing more than to silence conservative, common sense voices on campus,” YCT said in a press release. “We will continue to speak out against policies that are harmful or give preferential treatment based on nothing more than immutable characteristics.”

A similar bake sale hosted by YCT in 2013 led to the filing of more than 20 reports, Blair said. 

Blair said more than 100 reports were filed when YCT hosted a “Catch an Illegal Immigrant Day” event in 2013, which involved catching students who wore shirts that said “illegal immigrant.” The University did not punish the organization for either of the events, but DDCE Vice President Gregory Vincent denounced both events in official University statements.

“In seeking an audience for their ideas, the YCT resorted to exercising one of the university’s core values to the detriment of others,” Vincent said in a statement yesterday. “Such actions are counterproductive to true dialogue on our campus, and it is unrepresentative of the ideals toward which our community strives.”

Design junior Guneez Ibrahim created the petition because she believes the bake sale targeted racial minority groups in a negative way. Ibrahim said this type of behavior should not be tolerated on campus, and she considers the bake sale to be a hate crime.

“I was talking to students who identify as people of color or non-people of color, and both parties had negative reactions [to the bake sale], so I figured a petition would create a collective forum for students to voice their opinion and express their grievances,” Ibrahim said.

Ibrahim said she believes YCT needs to be disciplined by the University in some way, otherwise similar events will continue to occur on campus without punishment. 

The development of a hate crime policy has been in the works as part of the University’s Diversity Action Plan, which President Gregory Fenves mentioned at his State of the University address, but no public announcements from the University have been made regarding the specifics of the plan.

University-wide Representative Ashley Choi was one of the first people to show up to protest the bake sale. Choi said she considers the event to be a hate crime and fully supports the petition calling for the suspension of YCT.

“When [universities] don’t have concrete policy defining what constitutes a hate crime, a lot of the lines get blurred, and a lot of the racist, misogynistic, homophobic and transphobic incidents happening on campus are disguised as freedom of speech or academic freedom,” said Choi, an international relations and global studies senior. “Because of [this] a lot of organizations, especially Young Conservatives of Texas, have been getting away with this kind of racist disaster.”

The Campus Climate Advisory Board, which consists of student leaders from across campus, released a statement condemning the actions of YCT, calling the bake sale “offensive, inaccurate, and hate-filled.”

“In order for meaningful conversation to come to fruition, we must be educated on the matter,” the Campus Climate Advisory Board said in a statement. “Affirmative Action does not put anyone at a disadvantage; rather, it provides an opportunity for members of marginalized and oppressed communities to stand on the same playing field as their privileged counterparts.”