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The thought police strike back -- SMU affirmative action bake sale shut down

By Brendan Steinhauser
web posted September 29, 2003

The affirmative action bake sale over at the University of Texas
The affirmative action bake sale over at the University of Texas

This past Thursday, September 25th, was a dark day for freedom of speech on college campuses. An affirmative action bake sale organized by The Young Conservatives of Texas was shut down by the administration at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. The idea of the bake sale was to show that discrimination is wrong. The group did this by selling cookies at prices that corresponded to the consumer's race. While white males were asked to pay one dollar, Hispanic and black students paid less .

The administration responded to this act of protest by closing the bake sale down because it offended some students. At least one black student filed a grievance with the university. Tim Moore, director of the Hughes-Trigg Student Center at SMU remarked, "This was not an issue of free speech. It was really an issue where we had a hostile environment being created that was potentially volatile." According to this reasoning, free speech only applies to situations without heated discussions. By these standards, Martin Luther King, Jr. would not have been allowed to give his "I Have a Dream Speech." Everyone knows how volatile the civil rights movement was in America, but does that mean it should have been prevented?

Once again the hypocrisy of the academic left has been exposed. To them, free speech only applies to "politically correct" ideas, like support of affirmative action. Any speech that does not fit into the paradigm of liberal thought must be prohibited in the name of "tolerance." This paradoxical idea is a common feature of leftist beliefs.

As soon as the story broke about the SMU bake sale, news media from all over the country flocked to Dallas. David Rushing, the organizer of the event, and also the state chairman of The Young Conservatives, was flown to New York City to discuss the issue on ABC World News and Good Morning America. This shows the magnitude of the implications for the expression of conservative thought on American universities. If SMU is allowed to shut down such events, what prevents it from stopping similar protests in the future? What precedent does this set for college campuses in the rest of the country?

Debate insues at the University of Texas bake sale
Debate insues at the University of Texas bake sale

Conservatives contend that most college campuses were allowed to have massive anti-war protests that blocked traffic and cost the cities in which they were held thousands of dollars in taxpayers' money. Here, at The University of Texas in Austin, there were numerous demonstrations that had a much more disruptive effect and created a more hostile environment than the bake sale. Of course, local governments and campus administrations did nothing to halt these protests. There is indeed a double standard when it comes to expression of ideas on American college campuses today. This is unacceptable, and should not be allowed to continue.

The Young Conservatives of Texas are now calling for nationwide affirmative action bake sales to protest this discriminatory policy, and to challenge the administrations of universities to uphold the principles they claim to espouse. YCT will continue to work for academic freedom of thought, and for the right of all students, regardless of political beliefs, to express their opinions on their campuses. YCT also encourages the SMU alumni to withhold donations until the administration apologizes for their blatant censorship. This fight for free speech is a battle that must be won, to ensure that the leftist thought police are not allowed to impose their beliefs on students. Our forefathers added the bill of rights to our constitution to prevent such atrocities from occurring. It would be a shame for Americans to accept anything less than these fundamental and inalienable rights.

Brendan Steinhauser is the Executive Director of The Young Conservatives of Texas at The University of Texas at Austin. This article originally appeared in Front Page Magazine.

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