A college campus bake sale would typically not catch much attention, but one given by students at the University of Texas at Austin have caused an uproar over exactly what is being sold.
Earlier this week, the Young Conservatives of Texas club at the UT-Austin held an “affirmative action bake sale” offering baked goods at different prices based on the race and sex of the buyer.
Cookie prices included: free for American Indians of both genders, 50 cents for African Americans, $1 for white males, and $1.50 for Asian males, according to the Dallas Morning News.
Club members characterized the bake sale as a protest against what they called “institutionalized racism” of university level affirmative action. Their bake sale/protest attracted a crowd of hundreds who criticized the club members.
Students yelled, “check your privilege!”
The crowd dispersed along with the remaining members of the group who left following chants of “racists go home.”
UT-Austin’s relationship with affirmative action has been under a microscope following its years-long legal battle with a White female student who sued after she was denied admission to the university.
Abigail Fisher claimed she wasn’t accepted to UT-Austin due to the school’s “holistic” admissions criteria, which includes looking at students’ characteristics including race.
The suit went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, where the justices sided in favor of UT-Austin’s admissions policy. The university remains at the forefront to uphold affirmative action in college admissions.
“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,” Vidal Castañeda, club chairman, told the Dallas Morning News. “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.”
This club is hardly a stranger to criticism and pushing the envelope with their protests. In 2013, the same club held a similar bake sale – swapping out cookies for brownies using the very same price system.
Gregory J. Vincent, UT-Austin’s vice president for diversity and community engagement, deemed the bake sale “deplorable” and added “inflammatory and demeaning” following Wednesday’s bake sale.
“Yet 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,” he said.
The student club organized their bake sale and held it on the university’s West Mall, a popular place on campus where protests occur and free speech is encouraged.
While it is the student’s “right” to hold their bake sale, Vincent questioned the club’s intentions to further a dialogue pertaining to race and privilege or use race as a matter of divisiveness on campus.
“In seeking an audience for their ideas, the YCT resorted to exercising one of the university’s core values to the detriment of others,” Vincent said. “Such actions are counterproductive to true dialogue on our campus, and it is unrepresentative of the ideals toward which our community strives.”
Meanwhile, a petition created by students at UT-Austin gained more than 800 signatures in addition to 178 complaints registered with campus authorities, according to The Daily Texan.