Campus perspectives on controversial bake sale

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SEPTEMBER 27, 2011

This page will aggregate commentary on and responses to the Berkeley College Republicans’ “Increase Diversity Bake Sale.” Readers may continue to submit their thoughts on the topic to [email protected]. The Daily Californian’s editorial on the bake sale can be read here.



Letters to the editor

UC Berkeley student Anthony Rodriguez writes:

“I don’t speak for any particular student group or nationality; I don’t even speak as a person of color whatever that means. I speak as a UC Berkeley student. Let’s not forget that is what unites us all, somewhere, at some time, we were all given the opportunity to attend this institution and we should act with this in mind. I would like to think that I was accepted to Berkeley for the thoughts that were inside my head and not for the color or type of hair that grows from it. I would like to think that I do not owe my presence here due to the fact that I am of a darker shade, and I would not appreciate if the state suddenly took that into consideration.”

UC Berkeley junior Steven Johnson writes:

“Scores of students and staff members are up in arms over the Berkeley College Republicans’ Diversity Bake Sale, which sells baked goods at different prices based on the customer’s demographic. Yes, its message is blatant and offensive, but it is also a legal expression of free speech. Speech, even hate speech, is protected as long as it falls outside the sphere of “fighting words” to incite violence. It’s safe to say a bake sale does not intend to do so.”

Read the full text of the letters here.

UC Berkeley administrators send out campus wide letter condemning bake sale


From Chancellor Robert Birgeneau, Vice Chancellor for Equity & Inclusion Gibor Basri, and Vice Chancellor Harry LeGrande:

An Open Letter to the Campus Community

Last week an incident occurred that was contrary to the Principles of Community we espouse as a campus. The Berkeley College Republicans (an ASUC sponsored organization) publicized an “Increase Diversity Bake Sale” that prices baked goods according to a person’s ethnicity, race, or gender. This event has moved the campus community into dialogue, because it was hurtful or offensive to many of its members.

Illustrating the breadth of the offense taken, last night the ASUC Senate unanimously passed a resolution condemning the methodology used by BCR and urging respectful conduct by all student organizations. The administration firmly endorses those sentiments. It is our sincere hope that the strong reactions generated by the proposed bake sale provide a vivid lesson that issues of race, ethnicity, and gender are far from resolved, and very much a part of lived experience here and now.

Read the full text of the letter here.

Editorial cartoon

The running of the bulls

Maen Mahfoud/Staff


Bake sale shows poor judgment, timing

By Rick Chen | Special to the Daily Cal

The Berkeley College Republicans have recently drawn the attention of local news media, having stirred controversy throughout campus for their decision to hold an “affirmative action bake sale” to coincide with SB 185, a bill that would allow the UCs and CSUs to utilize ethnicity in the applications process. The event, billed as satirical by its proponents, does not promote meaningful political dialogue or opposition to the bill; instead, it shows the poor judgment of the organization.

As the former President of the Berkeley College Republicans, I know what the campus political climate is at Berkeley. Conservatives are largely outnumbered in the famously liberal university campus. It is great that organizations such as The California Patriot and the Berkeley College Republicans exist, as they are able to provide a safe space for the discussion of new, open and, most importantly, contrasting opinions and ideas. Is that not the mission of higher education?

However, there exists a right and wrong way for exchanging and encouraging healthy political debate and dialogue. The bake sale is far from this, serving instead to instigate a reaction from those in favor of affirmative action. While clearly sarcastic and in jest, the description of the event is a blatant attempt to stir up dissent.

Read the full text of the op-ed here.

Why our experiences cannot be discounted

By Catherine Eusebio and Mario Lopez | Special to the Daily Cal

Only in Berkeley does a bake sale incense the masses, spur yet another protest and garner national media attention. I’ve devoured dozens of cookies and cupcakes in my lifetime but never before have they motivated me to discuss race, politics and education with my peers.

On Thursday evening, the Berkeley College Republicans invited Facebook users to their “Increase Diversity” bake sale on Sproul. Their event is scheduled to occur simultaneously during campus efforts to support the passage of California legislative bills, including the controversial bill SB 185. The bill, if signed by Gov. Jerry Brown, would allow the UCs and CSUs to consider “race, gender, ethnicity, and national origin, along with other relevant factors, in undergraduate and graduate admissions.”

Read the full text of the op-ed here.

College Republicans highlight discriminatory policy in SB 185

By Shawn Lewis | Special to the Daily Cal

Setting prices for baked goods based on race is blatantly discriminatory — in the same way that using race to judge college applicants would be discriminatory. The Berkeley College Republicans oppose any policy that treats one racial group different from another. Some people would call treating one ethnic group different from another racist, and we agree with that position. Any system or policy that judges you a certain way because of the color of your skin is discriminatory, and BCR is not okay with that.

California Senate Bill 185, which was passed by the state Legislature and now awaits Gov. Jerry Brown’s approval or veto, does exactly this.  It 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 bill provides no language in explaining how these factors would be considered, much less what “other relevant factors” would be considered. The vagueness of the bill opens a wide door for abuse and very little accountability.

Read the full text of the op-ed here.

Diversity, racism, higher education and the real cost of baked goods

By David Oppenheimer | Special to the Daily Cal

If we want to make a point by holding bake sales with differential pricing based on race, let’s get the prices right. It is empirically well established that black and Hispanic Americans pay more for goods and services, while getting less, than white Americans.

As I described in a recent law review article on Proposition 209, if we take a statistically typical black high school senior from the Bay Area, here’s what the differential pricing really looks like: “It is likely that his or her (hereafter his) African American parents earn substantially less than similarly educated whites. They are less likely to be hired or promoted than similarly qualified whites and earn less even if they do hold similar jobs. Even correcting for income, they have far less wealth than whites of similar income, in significant part because … (of discriminatory government policies). If these African American parents were able to buy a home, it was probably in a minority neighborhood, where home values rise less quickly than in white neighborhoods … They were more likely to need a car to get to and from that home, because subsidized public transportation is disproportionately provided to white neighborhoods … (but) car ownership remains out of reach for more African Americans than whites in part because car dealers charge whites less than blacks for identical cars, and dealers charge a higher interest rate to blacks than they do to whites with the same credit ratings.”

 Read the full text of the op-ed here.


Free speech is the right ingredient for Republican bake sale

By Casey Given | Columnist

While happily skipping home from school last Friday, I received a frantic phone call that would completely change the course of my evening. It was a member of Berkeley College Republicans on the other line inviting me to attend an informal meeting the club’s leadership was holding to discuss their upcoming “Increase Diversity Bake Sale” that has been drawing so much controversy lately.

Now, I am not a college Republican, or even a Republican for that matter, but I do have some experience in dealing with issues of free speech. As a former intern of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), a nonprofit organization that defends civil liberties at colleges across America, I have studied several affirmative action bake sale cases before. Thus, I immediately accepted the invitation to offer my advice about what the group can and cannot do next Tuesday. On my walk over, the bright Berkeley day turned gloomy, eerily foreshadowing my change in mood.

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SEPTEMBER 27, 2011