UC Berkeley College Republicans’ ‘diversity bake sale’ elicits cries of racism

ASUC Senate calls special meeting to discuss controversy

In a move that triggered immediate backlash from the UC Berkeley student community, the Berkeley College Republicans announced plans Thursday night to host an “Increase Diversity Bake Sale” in opposition to Affirmative Action-like legislation awaiting Gov. Jerry Brown’s signature.

The original post announcing the bake sale — which created a tiered structure for the pricing of baked goods based on race — incensed students across campus, who decried the event on Facebook, calling it “racist,” “stupid” and “pathetic,” among other things.

A special meeting of the ASUC Senate has been called for Sunday at 6 p.m. to discuss the bill and the surrounding controversy, ASUC Executive Vice President Chris Alabastro said Friday afternoon.

Negative responses to the event flooded the Facebook event page, which the organization soon changed to a less inflammatory post — a move Berkeley College Republican President Shawn Lewis said in a Facebook comment “in no way means to ‘cover up’ the previous description.”

“The pricing structure of the baked goods is meant to be satirical, while urging students to think more critically about the implications of this policy,” the modified event page reads.

From the original post:

Most students feel that their voices aren’t heard in the baked goods distribution process controversy. They also believe that our UCs and CSUs need to be more diverse. YOU have the OPPORTUNITY to increase DIVERSITY and student VOICES by buying some PASTRIES and helping redistribute wealth for SOCIAL JUSTICE through BAKED GOODS on Sproul Plaza (9/27/11).

Berkeley College Republicans will be SELLING BAKED GOODS from 10 AM – 2PM across from the Affirmative Action Phonebank on Upper Sproul, and just like the CA Senate Bills 185 and 387 the phonebank supports, we will be considering RACE, GENDER, ETHNICITY, NATIONAL/GEOGRAPHIC ORIGIN and other relevant factors to ensure the EQUITABLE distribution of BAKED GOODS to our DIVERSE! student body.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

Hope to see you all there! If you don’t come, you’re a racist!

The bake sale is in protest of SB 185, which, if signed by Brown, would allow California public universities to consider a number of non-academic factors such as race, gender and nationality in the admissions process in order to increase campus diversity.

California public universities stopped considering race in admissions in 1997 after California voters passed Proposition 209.

According to Joey Freeman, ASUC External Affairs Vice President — who said he found the event “incredibly offensive” — there are a number of misconceptions about the legislation, namely that it gives preference to underrerpresented minorities. He emphasized that the bill would only allow — not require — admissions officers to consider race and nationality.

“It doesn’t use race as a preference,” he said.

Senior Michael Kim saw the bake sale event on Facebook and was angered by its implications. “It offended every single ethnic group and gender group,” he said. “It didn’t discriminate.”

While the student response on the event’s page was overwhelmingly negative, a few students showed support for the event, applauding the organization for standing up in the face of immense opposition.

Lewis said supporters of the event have faced harassment and threats for their views and requested that a civil dialogue be maintained.

“I have witnessed the harassment of the creators of the Facebook event, threats to those who plan on participating in the event, and a total mischaracterization of the purpose of the bake sale,” he wrote in a note on his Facebook page. “It is my hope that any student or student organization should feel comfortable and safe in voicing their views on a current issue, especially when that view is in the minority.”

The bake sale is scheduled to be held Sept. 27 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sproul Plaza.

A number of countermeasures have already been planned by students. A “Conscious Cupcakes Giveaway” will be held the same day as the bake sale to protest what many see as an inherently racist action.

Additionally, an emergency town hall “to discuss (the bake sale) and possible actions, we, as a multicultural community, can join together in response to this event that will be taking place on our Berkeley campus” has been called, according to the event page on Facebook.

A previous version of this article stated that the Cal Berkeley Democrats had called an emergency town hall meeting. In fact, the meeting was called by other students.