A young conservatives group at the University of Texas at Austin has canceled a "game" of “catch an illegal immigrant” planned for Wednesday following widespread protests on campus and online.
The UT chapter of the Young Conservatives of Texas announced on Facebook that it would host a game of “catch an illegal immigrant” on Wednesday. YCT planned to have several members run throughout campus wearing a shirt reading “illegal immigrant.” The group then planned to reward students who “caught” the “illegal immigrants” and returned them to a YCT table, ostensibly to promote debate about illegal immigration.
"Any UT student who catches one of these 'illegal immigrants' and brings them back to our table will receive a $25 gift card," YCT said on a Facebook page promoting the event. "The purpose of this event is to spark a campus-wide discussion about the issue of illegal immigration, and how it affects our everyday lives."
After the “catch an illegal immigrant” event was announced, the university administration quickly condemned the stunt as demeaning and insulting to the school’s students. According to NPR, several students also staged protests in person outside of the school’s Student Activity Center.
“The proposed Young Conservatives of Texas event is completely out of line with the values we espouse at the University of Texas at Austin,” University of Texas President Bill Powers said in a statement unanimously endorsed by the Faculty Council. “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.
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"As Americans, we should always visualize our Statue of Liberty and remember that our country was built on the strength of immigration," Powers continued. "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."
On Tuesday, Lorenzo Garcia, head of YCT’s University of Texas at Austin chapter, announced that the group had canceled the event, citing the possibility of “retaliation” from the school’s administration.
“The reactions of some who claim that YCT is creating a demeaning or degrading environment on campus have been truly disgraceful,” Garcia said in a statement.
Previous publicity stunts by the YCT have been deemed “inflammatory” and “demeaning” by UT's vice president for diversity and community engagement, Dr. Gregory J Vincent. In September, YCT hosted an “affirmative action bake sale” which charged white men more money than women and minorities for brownies.