Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

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October 4, 2022

Offensive protests won’t solve racial inequalities on campus

Chelsea Purgahn

The Young Conservatives of Texas at UT titled their press release about Wednesday’s bake sale “YCT-UT Starts Dialogue on Affirmative Action,” and I laughed. While they were legally within their First Amendment rights, the group did not mean to start a dialogue. They meant to start a fight.

The Young Conservatives has a history of racially charged events: this is the group that tried to bring us the “catch an illegal immigrant game,” and they held the same bake sale in 2003, 2008 and 2013. The 2013 bake sale happened on the West Mall, and the only change in setup Wednesday was the absence of a sign stating that the purpose of the event was to discuss affirmative action.

The organization received the same response from campus media and university officials at the end of the 2013 bake sale. The Texan Editorial Board called it a “childish stunt,” and Gregory J. Vincent, University Vice President for Diversity and Community Engagement, issued a statement calling it “inflammatory and demeaning.”

In their press release, Young Conservatives chairman Vidal Castañeda equates affirmative action and institutional racism.

“It is insane that institutional racism, such as affirmative action, continues to allow for universities to judge me by the color of my skin rather than my actions,” he said.

In he same way that the group has co-opted the phrases institutional racism and colorblindness, they are also misusing the word dialogue.

 Creating signs evocative of Jim Crow-era sentiments is not the way to start a constructive dialogue. Counter-protesters responded with anger and frustration, feeling attacked rather than engaged. During a Facebook live stream posted by Yerim Ashley Choi, an international relations and global studies senior, young conservatives members called for calm while an off-camera protester yelled, “There’s no point in educating you. There’s no point in trying to have a civil discussion with you!”

This event wasn’t meant to be about an exchange of views. It was created for shock value. If anything, it was meant to recruit people who may harbor the same underlying racist justifications for certain political stances.

While counter-protesters engaged in inappropriate behaviors as well, reactions like tearing up the bake sale’s price sign are understandable, even if they were out of line.

I don’t think damaging [the Young Conservatives’] property was okay,” English freshman Caitlin Smith said. “But I think the bigger issue is systematic racism.”

A total of more than 280,000 people have now viewed Choi’s live stream of the counter protest. In the video you can see the counter-protestors are not just one color or one ideology. The people who stood up to the Young Conservatives look and speak differently from each other, but they stood together.

We should work toward a UT where we stand up for what is right when an entity tries to resurrect hatred and misinformation under the guise of starting a dialogue — a UT where students feel a duty and connection to their peers that drives them to protect each other’s rights. What’s truly saddening about this incident is the fact that, clearly, we are not yet to a point where we can assume that UT students genuinely want to engage in a conversation with those who have different viewpoints. We will not reach true equality without the tolerance and understanding that comes from engaging in true dialogue.

MacLean is an advertising and geography sophomore. Follow her on twitter @maclean_josie

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Offensive protests won’t solve racial inequalities on campus