On Wednesday, the UT chapter of Young Conservatives of Texas (YCT) held a bake sale on the West Mall, where they sold goods to students at varying prices based on their race and gender. This is a repeat of a YCT bake sale held here on campus in September 2013. YCT joins a handful of student groups at other universities who over the years have used the same reductive tactic to garner the spotlight for their views on affirmative action.
Such methods are inflammatory and demeaning. 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. The West Mall is a place where free speech is exercised by all students, and rightly so, because it is meant to be an arena that inspires dialogue from diverse viewpoints. However, it is also meant to be a space where students exhibit respect for each other while holding those viewpoints. Although it is their right to do so, it is deplorable that a few students took advantage of this open forum to direct negative sentiment toward their peers.
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.