The University of Texas at Austin will ignore demands from student officials to “disband” a young conservative student group following a controversial “affirmative action bake sale” last week.
The bake sale instantly drew large crowds of protesters, many claiming the bake sale was a “hate crime.” A petition demanding the removal of the group also circulated the campus and as of Thursday, it has 863 signatures.
A resolution, filed by multiple members of the UT student government, called on the UT administration to not only disband Young Conservatives of Texas but demanding that they university respond to future incidents by “putting an individual or organization on disciplinary probation, suspending them or expelling them from campus.”
The director of UT media outreach, J.B. Bird, told The Daily Texan that both the petition and resolution will not be acknowledged by the university because the bake sale is considered a form of protected speech, making participants immune to punishment by the public university.
“A role of the university is to help its students understand and respect the rights of free speech,” says Bird in a statement obtained by The Daily Caller. “The ‘bake sale’ event last week was an example of the exercise of free speech. No students or organizations will be punished for that display.”
Prior to the administration’s decision to ignore the resolution, The Young Conservatives of Texas sent a letter to UT President Gregory Fenves emphasizing the importance of Free Speech on campus. “The First Amendment to the US Constitution protects more than just freedom of speech in the classroom,” states the letter. “It protects more than just speech that is politically correct. It protects more than just speech that is approved by the UT administration. The First Amendment gives all Americans, including students, the right to protest laws and policies they disagree with.”
Despite the administration’s clear stance on the right to free speech, some student government representatives voted to fast-track the anti-YCT resolution at a meeting held Tuesday night.
“I do not think that removing the organization from campus is the most effective approach to take; removing an organization is not synonymous with removing the schools of thought to which its members subscribe,” stated UT student government president Kevin Helgren. “At the same time, I do not plan on telling other members of Student Government how to approach the situation. If they wish to put forward legislation calling for YCT’s removal — which they have — they are more than welcome to do so. I will continue to advocate for students, champion affirmative action, and facilitate meaningful dialogue as the conversation unfolds.”
UT Student Government’s Campus Climate Advisory Board also released a letter last Thursday condemning YCT, stating “hate cannot, should not, and will not be tolerated at The University of Texas at Austin.”
Despite criticism from students, UT will continue to uphold their commitment to students freedom of speech. ”
The Young Conservatives of Texas, who consider the UT administration’s decision a victory, say that they “do not want special treatment, only an even playing field to express our political beliefs.”