BERKELEY, Calif. – A satirical bake sale at the University of California-Berkeley that was designed to protest affirmative action drew several dozen sweet-toothed supporters along with hundreds of critics on Tuesday.
The Berkeley College Republicans held the “Increase Diversity Bake Sale” to speak out against legislation that would allow California public universities to consider race and other factors in student admissions.
The sale set different prices for cookies and cakes based on the buyer’s race, gender and ethnicity, ranging from $2 for White people to 25 cents for Native Americans. Women were offered a 25-cent discount.
Critics called the bake sale event racist. But the group said the same could be said about affirmative action policies.
“The pricing structure is meant to be discriminatory,” the group’s president, Shawn Lewis, said of the bake sale. “We’re hoping it will encourage people to think more carefully about a policy that judges people differently based on the color of their skin.”
Dozens of people of various races bought a dessert as members of the Republican group held signs opposing the legislation Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown is considering.
At noon, several hundred students dressed in black held a counter-protest, lying down in the middle of a campus plaza to call on Brown to sign the bill known as SB185. Many held signs that read “Do UC [you see] us now?”
California has barred giving preferential treatment in public college admissions, hiring and contracting based on race, ethnicity or gender since voters approved Proposition 209 in 1996. The bill would open the door for the universities to consider such factors, alongside others, in admissions decisions to the extent allowed by law.
Student Republican groups have held similar “bake sales” on other college campuses to oppose affirmative action policies.
Tuesday’s events were part of a heated debate on this famously liberal campus over affirmative action and free speech sparked by the legislation.
The bake sale had been organized to counter a pro-legislation effort by the Associated Students of the University of California. The student government organization planned to sponsor a call-in booth where students can urge the governor to sign the bill.
In response to the bake sale, the Associated Students unanimously approved a resolution Sunday that “condemns the use of discrimination whether it is in satire or in seriousness by any student group.”
Freshman Maura Mooney, 18, joined the students opposing Tuesday’s bake sale.
“I don’t think they’re doing a good job of getting their point across in a respectful manner,” she said. “They’re offending a lot of people.”