Message to UT YCT: Tone matters. A provocative stunt doesn't advance a conversation when it's offensive.
1. After a day of criticism and anger directed at him, Lorenzo Garcia, the chairman of the Young Conservatives of Texas, decided to cancel his planned “catch an illegal immigrant” game at the University of Texas.
The event would have seen people with “illegal immigrant” labels being apprehended, in exchange for $25 gift cards.
2. Garcia released a statement saying his calculation changed after the university forcefully denounced the event for violating the honor code.
I spoke with our chapter’s members, and they are both concerned that the university will retaliate against them and that the protest against the event could create a safety issue for our volunteers. I acknowledge that the decision to include issuing $25 gift cards during the event was misguided and that the idea for the event was intentionally over the top in order to get attention for the subject. It is a simple fact that illegal immigration is a concern in this country and that it is one we must face. Estimates suggest that around 12 million people are living in the United States without documentation. President Obama wants to address the issue during his final term, and students on college campuses, conservative, liberal, or somewhere in between, should not be silenced when they attempt to make their voices heard about an issue that is so important to our futures.
3. Garcia told BuzzFeed on Monday that the criticism and attacks on him for being a Hispanic who was putting other Latinos in the crosshairs didn’t bother him, but he was clearly affected after the fallout.
“I have been shocked at the uproar over the event’s premise and at the personal attacks against me,” Garcia continued. “Today, opponents of YCT have claimed that I am being used as a front man. I have been called an ‘Uncle Tom.’ I have received emails and comments via social media filled with obscenity. The reactions of some who claim that YCT is creating a demeaning or degrading environment on campus have been truly disgraceful.”
4. In a statement to BuzzFeed, the university applauded the decision to cancel the event.
“The University of Texas at Austin honors the right of free speech for all students. We welcome the Young Conservatives of Texas’ decision to cancel Wednesday’s event and look forward to the group being part of a thoughtful campus discussion about immigration,” it read.
5. Garcia and his organization were hit from all sides on Monday, as liberals and conservatives alike said the event was ill-conceived, including the Hispanic communication director for the RNC.
6. Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott was brought into the fray because Garcia had been a staffer for him as recently as this summer, but he sought to distance himself from the event as well.
“Our campaign has no affiliation with this repugnant effort,” he said in a statement. “Illegal immigration and the failed policies of the Obama administration are no joking matter.”
7. As word got out that the event was canceled, those online were relieved.
9. A counter Facebook event, which shot past the original in terms of interest and had more than 4,300 members, said they are pleased but will move forward with their immigration awareness events.
The group said they will pressure a congressman who represents the university and they say has ignored the community concerning immigration reform, and will host an event on campus in solidarity with the university’s undocumented students who are able to attend because of the Texas DREAM Act.
“Please wear a white t-shirt that says ‘Undocumented,’ the Facebook page reads.
“The event will be a combination of a silent protest, including educational speakers and undocumented Longhorns sharing their stories. It is a direct response to the hateful action that has sparked protest across the nation. It will be a symbol of solidarity with undocumented immigrants, particularly the 400 undocumented Longhorns on campus.”