Student Government voted by a wide margin Tuesday night against disbanding the Young Conservatives of Texas for its affirmative action bake sale, with many representatives citing the organization’s First Amendment right to hold the event.
Assembly Resolution 15, in support of disbanding Young Conservatives of Texas, failed with 26 representatives voting against, four voting in favor and two abstaining from the vote.
Ashley Choi, University-wide representative for SG and one of the authors of the resolution, said those in support wanted SG to send a message to the student body that racism would not be tolerated.
“It’s legal to practice and exercise the right of freedom of speech,” Choi said. “It was never about legality. We never approached this in terms of legality, but we just wanted the University and the student body to protect those who were directly harmed by the bake sale.”
Those who voted in favor of the resolution were Choi, Priya Suri, College of Liberal Arts representative; Faith Carter, Cockrell School of Engineering representative; and Alex Wagner, College of Natural Sciences.
During the debate portion for the resolution, 13 different SG members stood representing the side dissenting the passage of the AR 15. Several of those dissenting condemned YCT for the bake sale and asked for the authors of the resolution to amend it to a strong condemnation of YCT, rather than calling for the total disbandment of the group.
“The reason why I said this was non-negotiable is because this incident is not an isolated incident,” Choi said. “They have been condemned, they have been criticized and they have been denounced multiple times by both the University and the student body … We want to punish the source of this which is systematic racism and xenophobia and that’s why we aren’t willing to negotiate it.”
YCT Communications Director Allison Peregory said SG made the right decision by upholding freedom of speech principles.
“YCT-UT is pleased to see AR15 fail by such a large margin,” Peregory said in a text. “It is great to see so many students that, while they may not all agree with our conservative principles, understand the fundamental importance of freedom of speech on university campuses.”
Computer science freshman Vignesh Chilecampalli, who is not an SG member but spoke against the passage of the resolution, said he thought there needed to be more tangible evidence of racism before drastic action like banning YCT could be taken.
“In order to basically constitute actual racism, they should have openly said that they believe certain races are more valuable and some races are less,” Chilecampalli said. “They were just trying to parody affirmative action.”
YCT member Saurabh Sharma also spoke against the passage of the resolution, saying the bake sale was simply satire to create awareness of problems with affirmative action.
“I believe Student Government is a legitimate authority, but passing this legislation would be counterproductive to that,” Sharma said. “Coddling into resolution that we’re a racist organization would be a blow to the principles [SG] was founded on of freedom, liberty and justice for all.”