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Saturday, August 13, 2022

Opinion

Racist illegal immigration event keeps Austin weird


UT

David Delgado//The Daily Cougar

Most of us have come to address the inadvertent acts of bigotry from our nation’s youth with a stern shake of the head and not much more. We don’t let them dress up as a members of the Klu Klux Klan for Halloween. We bring them up and try our best to expose them to all kinds of people in the hopes of molding an open-minded, educated young adult who’ll help break some of the racial and political barriers that have divided us for far too long.

So your child wants to go to the University of Texas at Austin. They get there, and they love — and incessantly tweet about — the city. Then they take an introductory political science class and decide to join a political student organization to flex their newfound awareness and get paid for catching people dressed up like undocumented immigrants.

As reported by Al Jazeera America, an event organized by UT’s chapter of the Young Conservatives of Texas involved its members chasing and catching participants wearing “illegal immigrant” badges. In exchange, they’d get a $25 gift card — probably to Bigots ’R Us.

The Houston Chronicle reported that in the face of the criticism, YCT decided to cancel the event, which was scheduled to take place today. YCT chairman Lorenzo Garcia announced that the group canceled the event because many of the chapter’s members became concerned that anti-event protests could become a safety issue for their members.

So he may not have been capable of using his intuition when it came to designing the event. Thankfully, he tuned in to the public’s outcry.

UT’s president may have put the young activists up to the job. In a statement released by the university’s president Bill Powers, he was open about putting YCT’s membership in charge of organizing a reputable political dialogue, and not a racially-tinged game of 3-D Monopoly.

“As Americans, we should always visualize our Statue of Liberty and remember that our country was built on the strength of immigration,” Powers said. “Our nation continues to grapple with difficult questions surrounding immigration. I ask YCT to be part of that discussion but to find more productive and respectful ways to do so that do not demean their fellow students.”

Way to come through in the clutch, YCT. It’s not every day that the most powerful man in your entire university sends a task down the pipeline to his or her students.

Perhaps your interpretation of what the president was asking for serves as a pretty good example for why students don’t get asked too often for their help, though.

For that, we sarcastically thank you.

Vice President of UT’s Division of Diversity and Community Engagement Gregory J. Vincent released a statement of acknowledgement and disapproval on the university’s website.

“If the members of YCT carry out their plan for ‘Catch an Illegal Immigrant,’ they are willfully ignoring the honor code and contributing to the degradation of our campus culture,” the statement said. “And once again, they will have 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.”

Frankly, it’s people like this who make the entire Republican party look bad. Seeing as much of the media tends to take a liberal stance, today’s conservatives are faced with the unique challenge of fostering the kind of national dialogue that makes headlines.

It an incredibly unfortunate double standard, especially for those who base their political beliefs solely on the media’s — but it exists, and it’s something conservatives will have to learn to more effectively work to their advantage.

In a shameless effort to exude some UH pride, our own campus’ branch of College Republicans seems to have been able to successfully avoid the attention of Al Jazeera America this semester.

So far this year, our College Republicans hosted a mayoral forum with the College Democrats and SGA that discussed the infrastructure, budget and future of Houston. Chairman Michael Salvo was invited by President of the Texas Federation of Republican Women Carolyn Hodges to speak at the 2013 TFRW Convention.

Despite all odds, it seems that it is indeed possible to promote conservative activism on a college campus without eliciting outcry from the media and isolating one’s own political party.

Back to those good ol’ boys in our state’s capital, UT’s YCT’s website outlines the organization’s greater mission within the university, explaining that they “base (their) efforts on promoting good policy and conservative principles.”

Unfortunately for the YCT, the key word of “good” is something that’ll hold them to a higher standard than using shock tactics to gain notoriety.

Hosting an open discussion forum with UT students or consulting their political science professors to help answer some of the student body’s questions on immigration would’ve been a collected and commendable approach to grappling with such a grand political concept at such a relatively young age.

Organizing a game of freeze tag that insults the integrity of your nation’s foundation, though, might’ve just been the worst route to take.

Senior staff columnist Cara Smith is a communications junior and may be reached at [email protected]

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