Affirmative action is more complex than cookies

By Tatiana Rodriguez, Columnist

rodriguez-tatiana_cutout One of the most common ways to fundraise for various causes is a bake sale. Most bake sale profits benefit things related to funding student groups or supporting health causes and other charitable organizations.

At the University of Texas at Austin, however, a bake sale proved to be much more serious than any old cookie fundraiser.

The UT Austin chapter of The Young Conservatives of Texas’ bake sale  was meant to bring attention to the topic of affirmative action — the desserts, however, were met with protest rather than profit.

The star of the bake sale, the menu, had fixed prices based on race/ethnicity and sex — the highest price of $1.50 was reserved for Asian males while Native Americans, regardless of their sex, got baked goods for free.

All around, females paid less for desserts than males of the same racial/ethnic background. All of this was to say that marginalized groups of people get handouts when it comes to the college admission process.

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Many students rejected the YCT group’s message, though. Droves of students confronted the group, either criticizing them unabashedly or attempting to engage with members in heated debate.

The major criticism of the YCT group’s bake sale was that they failed to understand that affirmative action is necessary to include people that would otherwise be shut out from institutions of higher education.

Additionally, students expressed that by parodying or mocking affirmative action programs, the YCT was communicating that marginalized people are only accepted into college to fulfill a quota rather than actually having the merit to succeed.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, “Affirmative action is more of a process rather than just an admissions policy,” and, “(has) resulted in doubling or tripling the number of minority applications to colleges or universities, and (has) made colleges and universities more representative of their surrounding community.”

With this, the argument that affirmative action programs simply give marginalized people success is shattered by the fact that affirmative action aims to make college campuses more equal and inclusive by recognizing the already abundant accolades of “minority” applicants.

By giving historically marginalized people a chance that they already deserve, the effects of centuries of oppression will, in some ways, be lessened.

At both the bake sale and on social media, the opposition readily combatted the YCT with this argument.

However, by defending affirmative action and heralding it as a nearly perfect system, we ignore the detrimental flaws and hidden facts that, at times, contribute to the idea that affirmative action programs are handouts.

As I said before, many who oppose affirmative action argue that its programs are the sole reason why marginalized groups of people can succeed in the higher education system. However, it is often overlooked that affirmative action doesn’t greatly benefit the people that the YCT group thinks it does.

A Hoover Institute study found that affirmative action programs often benefit middle to upper class students. Additionally, the Huffington Post found that while white women often criticize affirmative action for being seemingly discriminatory against white people, it is them who actually disproportionately benefit from affirmative action — a quite interesting fact considering many of the YCT group’s members are white women.

Even more interesting is that UT Austin’s student body is 45 percent nonLatinx white while dismal fractions of that number represent non-whites on campus — prompting many to wonder why the majority, if not all, white members of the YCT were so impassioned to criticize a system that generally benefits them.

Herein lies one of the difficult parts when it comes to discussing affirmative action programs. While affirmative action was created to benefit marginalized people across all types of socioeconomic groups, it is often that the criticism of these programs is only geared toward specific racial groups even when they don’t actually benefit from them.

Since the YCT group was driven away from their bake sale by angry students, it’s safe to say they probably won’t attempt to use such fundraising tactics again.

One can only wonder, though, if they actually sold cookies or if they were only served a steaming spoonful of humble pie.

Tatiana is a freshman in Media.

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