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UC Berkeley student leaders respond to bake sale

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SEPTEMBER 23, 2011

Student leaders from various organizations have publicly denounced the Berkeley College Republicans’ plans to hold an “Increase Diversity Bake Sale,” where the race of the consumer would determine the price of a baked good.

The bake sale is intended to protest the Affirmative Action-like bill, SB 185 — currently awaiting Gov. Jerry Brown’s signature — in a satirical manner, according to Shawn Lewis, the organization’s president.

The event’s announcement stirred such enormous student outcry that an emergency meeting of the ASUC Senate — UC Berkeley’s student government body — was called for Sunday to discuss the controversy.

“I fully support the idea of members of BCR expressing their views on SB 185, and I believe that there should be dialogue and discussion surrounding this issue, but I do not think that this method is constructive,” said ASUC President Vishalli Loomba in an email. “Members of BCR have expressed that the differential pricing structure was intended to be satirical, but I do not see how this is comparable to what SB 185 stands for.”

Loomba added that while she believes the campus Republicans’ organization has a right to express its views, the organization went too far in its actions.

As an organization that receives funding from the ASUC, the Berkeley College Republicans is subject to having its sponsorship revoked. According to Loomba, the senate will be discussing this possibility at the emergency meeting on Sunday.

According to the ASUC constitution, the Senate “shall not fund any activity or group which discriminates against any student by race, color, religion, marital status, national origin, sex, age, sexual orientation, physical disability, or political activity, or belief in its method or recruitment and acceptance for membership.”

Loomba said in the email that punitive measures are “definitely a possibility.”

Lewis said that the event is specifically meant to protest the ASUC-sponsored phone bank in which students are encouraged to call in support of SB 185 to the governor.

He said the ASUC’s event makes it sound like “Berkeley students have one voice.”

“They never asked the other side,” he said.

Lewis added that the campus Republicans’ organization is an extremely diverse group whose board of directors — which made the decision to hold the bake sale — consists of members of all racial backgrounds.

“People just keep screaming that it’s a bunch of white kids,” he said.

Lewis said that while he thinks admissions should be largely merit-based, he does think that socioeconomic factors should be considered in college admissions considerations — just not race alone.

Although he said the bake sale is meant to be a satire, many community leaders said they did not see the joke.

“When I was an undergraduate at Cal in the early 2000s the Berkeley College Republicans did this exact same stunt, and it was just as offensive then too,” said UC Student Regent Alfredo Mireles Jr. in a joint press release with Student Regent-designate Jonathan Stein. “It is disappointing that these politically engaged Berkeley students decided to deal with this issue in an immature and offensive way that will make some Berkeley students not feel welcomed on their own campus.”

UC Berkeley student Marco Amaral, among the organizers of an “emergency town hall” event on Friday evening, said that while he was dismayed by the announcement of the bake sale, he was impressed with student response.

“The initial reaction of the community was a beautiful thing,” he said. “The multicultural community on campus stands in unity against racism, sexism, and any type of prejudice.”

A Daily Californian reporter and two photographers were ousted from that town hall after a majority of the approximately 80 attendees voted in favor of removing all media from in the room.

Controversy first arose following the creation of a Facebook event page for the bake sale Thursday night, which set the price of baked goods for whites higher than those for other minority groups — including blacks, Latinos and Asians — and women. Almost immediately, student backlash exploded, with Facebook commenters calling the event “racist,” “pathetic” and “offensive.”

The emergency town hall was just one of many student reactions to the bake sale. A counter protest, the “Conscious Cupcakes Giveaway,” is planned for the same day as the bake sale.

Contact Sara Grossman at 


SEPTEMBER 26, 2011