Conservative students at the University of Texas at Austin faced backlash from much of the student body following an ”affirmative action bake sale” that they launched to shed light on what they believe are racist affirmative action policies at the school.
Students involved with the the school’s Young Conservatives of Texas organization believe applying affirmative action practices to the admissions process is discriminatory. “Our protest was designed to highlight the insanity of assigning our lives value based on our race and ethnicity, rather than our talents, work ethic, and intelligence,” the organization’s chapter chairman Vidal Castañeda said in a statement. “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.”
It seems following Abigail Fisher’s failed lawsuit against the school, some conservative students still don’t fully understand what affirmative action is. Affirmative action is a policy that allows universities to use race as an admissions factor to create diversity and gives students in historically disadvantaged groups a very slight advantage. Ironically, studies have shown that white women are the biggest beneficiaries of the policy. In Abigail Fisher’s case, her grades were not only not good enough to land her a place in the university, but of the 42 students with lower test grades admitted over her, only five were people of color.
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The conservative group hosted the same bake sale in 2013 and hosted a “Catch an Illegal Immigrant” game that same year, which was later canceled. Students in opposition of the group’s beliefs overwhelmed the bake sale to protest the controversial event. “I think it’s actually crazy and disturbing that anyone would think black people aren’t smart enough to get into UT based on merit, rather only on skin color,” student and demonstrator Shad Murray told The Huffington Post. “For them to make assumptions like that is disgusting and not true.” He later added that the number of students who came together to protest the bake sale has been an amazing show of support. “Seeing so many different types of people, all from different races and ethnicities, come together and stand up against something offensive was just amazing to watch.”
In a statement on the incident, University President Greg Fenves described the bake sale as “inflammatory and demeaning,” while voicing his disapproval of the select group of students’ decision to host the event. “It is deplorable that a few students took advantage of this open forum to direct negative sentiment toward their peers.” he added. “In seeking an audience for their ideas, the YCT resorted to exercising one of the university’s core values to the detriment of others. Such actions are counterproductive to true dialogue on our campus, and it is unrepresentative of the ideals toward which our community strives.”