Posted at 02:54 PM ET, 09/26/2011

UC Berkeley’s race-based bake sale sparks controversy

Republican students at the University of California, Berkeley are under fire for plans to hold an “Increase Diversity Bake Sale” Tuesday to protest affirmative action legislation, NPR reported.


How much would you have to pay? (James M. Thresher - For The Washington Post)
The students say the sale was only meant to be a satire of legislation that would allow California universities to consider race, gender, ethnicity and national origin during admissions.

But UC Berkeley’s student senate and others say the bake sale is discriminatory, especially the organizers’ plan to charge different students diffferent amounts for the cupcakes they’re selling, with the price structure as follows:

— White/Caucasian students, $2 for each baked good.

— Asians/Asian-Americans, $1.50.

— Latinos/Hispanics, $1.

— Blacks/African-Americans, 75 cents.

— Native Americans, 25 cents.

Women get 25 cents off the price.

The student organizers said the prices were different “to ensure the fairest distribution.”

By Monday, however, the Facebook posting for the event had been changed to give specific details about the affirmative action bill instead of lampooning it.

“Obviously the satirical nature of the event was not received, so we felt it necessary to instead just put exactly what the point is,” Shawn Lewis, President of the Berkeley College Republicans, wrote on Facebook.

But Salih Muhammad, chair of the campus Black Student Union, didn’t find the satire so funny.

“We're not open to being reduced to a price at a bake sale,” he told the college newspaper the Daily Californian. “There's a certain point where satire becomes disrespectful.”

At a student senate meeting Sunday, the students voted 19-0 to condemn “the use of discrimination whether it is in satire or in seriousness by any student group.”

The Daily Californian posted a video in which they interviewed students about how they felt about the bake sale:

Update, 4:59 p.m.

A reader informs me that affirmative action bake sales have been done in years past.

In 2003, for example, College Republicans at UC Berkeley held an anti-affirmative action bake sale in which cookies were offered for $1.50 to whites and 25 cents to blacks. In a rival bake sale, Stanford University gave out free brownies as “a way of symbolizing that there should be equality of education regardless of your ability to quote-unquote ‘pay,’” organizer Timmy Lu of the Students for Educational Equity coalition said at the time.

By  |  02:54 PM ET, 09/26/2011

Tags:  National, affirmative action, race, UC Berkeley

 
Read what others are saying
     

    © 2011 The Washington Post Company