The Young Conservatives of Texas student group at the University of Texas at Austin (UT-Austin) has come under fire for hosting a controversial “Affirmative Action Bake Off” last week, which featured different prices based on gender and race to protest the university’s use of affirmative action in admissions. UT-Austin administrators called the event “inflammatory and demeaning,” leading the group to threatened legal action should the university decide to punish them.
“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,” Young Conservatives of Texas Chairman Vidal Castañeda told the Daily Texan, UT-Austin’s student newspaper. “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.”
An angry crowd of hundreds of students gathered at the bake sale, shouting, “Check your privilege” and “Racists go home.” The event eventually ended peacefully, but some university employees suggested the group be disbanded or its members be punished.
“If any punitive action is taken against the Young Conservatives of Texas chapter at the University of Texas at Austin or our members on account of their speech, we will take legal action against the university and all persons involved for deprivation of civil rights,” the club stated in a letter sent to UT-Austin President Greg Fenves on Tuesday. “Any policies adopted or embraced by the university that infringe upon those rights will be fought in court, in the legislature, and on campus.”
The university responded late Tuesday, saying it “does not and will not take any punitive action against an organization or its members for exercising their constitutional right to free speech,” The Dallas Morning News reported.
“The right to freely express views is vital to the health of our university, even if some find that expression offensive or disrespectful,” UT Austin spokesman J.B. Bird told The Dallas Morning News. “For this reason, UT will continue to protect students and student organizations in the exercise of their free speech rights.”