Bake Sale at UC Berkeley Sparks Controversy and Conversation

Bake Sale at UC Berkeley Sparks Controversy and Conversation

By: 
ICTMN Staff
9/29/11

A bake sale held at the University of California at Berkeley sparked controversy before it was even held, but went on as planned. The organizing group said they sold out of cupcakes and were glad their event didn’t end in violence.

To protest state Senate Bill 185, which according to Aroundthecapitol.com would “authorize the University of California and the California State University to consider race, gender, ethnicity, and national origin, along with other relevant factors, in undergraduate and graduate admissions,” the Berkeley College Republicans held what they dubbed an Increase Diversity Bake Sale with a pricing structure based on those same factors.

The sale was held on Tuesday, September 27 at the same time the student government held a phone bank for students to call the governor and encourage him to sign SB185.

A Facebook statement announcing the sale says, “to ensure the fairest distribution, and make sure that there are a DIVERSE population of RACES of students getting BCR’s delicious baked goods, the pricing structure will be as follows:

White/Caucasian: $2.00

Asian/Asian American: $1.50

Latino/Hispanic: $1.00

Black/African American: $0.75

Native American: $0.25

$0.25 OFF FOR ALL WOMEN”

This post was later removed by BRC and replaced with statements meant to “clarify the message of the event,” commented BRC President Shawn Lewis on Facebook after a student named Stefan Montouth reposted the original announcement. Lewis called the event “satirical,” but other Facebook responses did not take it as such.

“I can’t believe I go to a school where people think like this,” Ayanna Smith, another student commented.

But the bake sale went on, and BCR sold some 300 cupcakes.

“Beside from selling cupcakes, there was a lot of conversations between people,” Lewis told CNN.com. “There were some aggressive people who came up with angry things to say, but there was no violence.”

Yards away from the bake sale the Associated Students of the University of California (ASUC) held a phone bank supporting SB185. ASUC president Vishalli Loomba told CNN that many students in her group were disgusted by the bake sale.

“As a woman of color, when I first saw the event, I was appalled someone would post something like this on the Internet—not only a different pay structure, but also to rank the races,” she said. “It trivializes the struggles that people have been through and their histories.”

Lewis agreed that the bake sale was racist, but said that was the point. He told CNN the purpose of the pricing structure “is to cause people to disagree with this kind of preferential treatment. We want people to say no race is above another race, or no race is below another one. Why put one over the other? Why rank them that way?”

To protest the bake sale, a number of students demonstrated in Sproul Plaza. Some students laid down, others held signs saying “Don’t UC us?” and “UC us now.”

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