A race- and gender-based bake sale organized by a conservative student group to protest affirmative action at the University of Texas at Austin on Wednesday has prompted outrage from students and university officials.
The UT chapter of Young Conservatives of Texas (YCT-UT) said it organized the bake sale with prices based on race and gender "to illustrate this disastrous policy that demeans minorities on our campus by placing labels of race and gender on their accomplishments."
"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," YCT-UT Chair Vidal Castañeda said in 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."
In June 2013, the US Supreme Court upheld UT Austin's race-conscious admissions review process. The university had been sued by Abigail Fisher, a student who claimed that underqualified minority students were accepted at UT over her because of their race.
The bake sale listed the highest prices for Asian students followed by white students, lower prices for black and Hispanic students, while Native American students were offered items for free.
More than 100 students protested the bake sale on campus, which administration officials had previously rebuked back in 2013.
Protesters chanted "Racists go home!" at the bake sale organizers.
President Greg Fenves said Wednesday that the bake sale did not reflect UT values, while Gregory J. Vincent, the vice president for diversity, called it "inflammatory and demeaning."
"Focusing our attention on the provocative nature of the YCT’s actions ignores a much more important issue: they create an environment of exclusion and disrespect among our students, faculty and staff," Vincent said in a statement. "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."
The protest led to several arguments and discussions between YCT members and protesters.
Two YCT members defended the idea of the anti-affirmative action bake sale to several protesters.
"I think that their protest [against affirmative action] was not only ignorant, it was racist," one student said.
Another student said the idea of the bake sale with the sign showing race- and gender-based prices was "inherently racist."
YCT later told its members that the bake sale "took a turn when it was taken over by members of the student body who were unprofessional and far less civil than we were."
"YCT-UT will not be deterred by liberal elites that would love nothing more than to silence conservative, common sense voices on campus," the group said in a statement.
"We will continue to speak out against policies that are harmful or give preferential treatment based on nothing more than immutable characteristics," the statement said.
Several other UT students took to social media to protest the bake sale, with some calling it "ridiculous."
Others said they were "disgusted" by the bake sale.
Some said they were proud that the student community "stood up" to the Young Conservatives.
"I am so proud of my community for standing against bigotry," one student said.
Tasneem Nashrulla is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
Contact Tasneem Nashrulla at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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