- SXSW 2014
On Monday, the Young Conservatives of Texas (YCT) announced that on Wednesday they will host an event that will consist of students "catching" people labeled as “illegal immigrants” in exchange for $25 gift card, in order to spark a conversation about illegal immigration. Students and others from the UT community are speaking out against the event.
In response to Young Conservatives of Texas’ (YCT) “Catch an Illegal Immigrant” event planned for Wednesday, students opposed to the event are organizing counter-action responses.
YCT’s event will involve several people labeled as “illegal immigrants” walking around the UT campus, and any student who “catches” one of them and takes them to the YCT table will receive a $25 gift card. The purpose of the event is to create a discussion on the issue of illegal immigration.
The NO to Campus HATE! event is being organized by several students and organizations against YCT’s game and is set to happen on the same day. UT Latinos and University Leadership Initiative are hosting a response meeting to plan the retaliation event today at 5 p.m.
“Undocumented people live in constant fear they will be caught by ICE and placed in jail, separated from their families and loved ones,” said Ainee Athar, a UT alum who is working with students to organize the counter event. Athar also campaigned with University Leadership Initiative a few weeks ago to pass AR 16, a resolution that states that UT supports undocumented students.
Athar said that if YCT wanted to talk about undocumented immigrants, there are better ways they could have done that.
“Our door is always open – we could have organized a panel or a debate, something more productive than a dehumanizing ‘catch an immigrant for a gift card’ scheme,” Athar said. “To make a mockery of the violence and trauma endured by millions of American residents is disgusting.
UT President Bill Powers released a statement saying that the event is completely out of line with the values espoused at UT.
“Our students, faculty and the entire university work hard both to promote diversity and engage in a respectful exchange of ideas. The Wednesday event does not reflect that approach or commitment,” Powers’ statement said.
Powers also called attention to the fact that the country was built on the strength of immigration, and he asked YCT to find a more productive and respectful way to be part of the discussion on immigration, one that doesn’t demean their fellow students.
Powers’ statement was unanimously endorsed by the university staff council.
In addition, Dr. Gregory J. Vincent, Vice President for Diversity and Community Engagement, released a statement saying that the tactics YCT is using are “inflammatory and demeaning,” and YCT’s effort to be provocative is only contributing to an environment of exclusion and disrespect on campus by sending the message that certain students do not belong on campus.
“Some UT Austin students are undocumented, and under Dream Act legislation signed into law in 2001, these students are entitled to attend state universities. They are part of a growing diverse population on campus and in the state of Texas—a population that plays increasingly larger roles in our intellectual, economic, political and cultural communities,” Vincent’s statement said, adding that by carrying out their “Catch an Illegal Immigrant” plan, YCT is willfully ignoring the honor code and contributing to the degradation of campus culture.
“Such actions are counterproductive to true dialogue on our campus, and are unrepresentative of the ideals toward which our community strives,” Vincent’s statement said.
YCT is the same group that in September hosted an “Affirmative Action Bake Sale” where students paid different prices for baked goods depending on their race. The bake sale was meant to protest affirmative action.