Affirmative action debate heats up over bake sale

Randy Adam Romero/Staff
Shawn Lewis (center), the president of the Berkeley College Republicans, and former UC Regent Ward Connerly (behind Lewis) support the ‘Increase Diversity Bake Sale.’ The bake sale aimed to satirize SB 185 — affirmative action-like legislation — through a proposed price structure based on race and sex.

When two girls dressed as Native Americans approached the “Increase Diversity Bake Sale” table on Tuesday for free cupcakes, Andy Nevis, the executive director of the Berkeley College Republicans, told them that the costumes were not necessary to get the cupcakes at a lower price.

But the sale’s stratified price structure — tiered based on race and sex — was never actually enforced, Nevis said. When patrons wanted to buy the group’s baked goods, they were told that they could pay whatever price they wanted.

“Our main goal was not to make money,” Nevis said. “We were out to make a political point. It’s a success, but our point was to get across SB 185 in that it was discriminatory.”

Since there was no monetary goal, the group rejected campus professor of political science Wendy Brown’s offer earlier in the day to buy all 500 of the club’s baked goods, which included cupcakes and cookies.

However, the group still sold out half an hour before the close of the sale, bringing in almost $800, according to Nevis.

The highly controversial bake sale,  which garnered national media attention and widespread criticism of racism, was intended to satirize SB 185 — affirmative action-like legislation awaiting Gov.  Jerry Brown’s signature.

Nevis said the proceeds from the bake sale will go to an undisclosed charity organization related to U.S. military veterans.

Although the bake sale has opened a discussion on campus about the value of affirmative action, Nevis said the organization’s next move is still being discussed.

BAMN has presented an open challenge to the Berkeley College Republicans to debate SB 185 specifically, as well as affirmative action as a larger concept, said Ronald Cruz, BAMN attorney and UC Berkeley alumnus.

However, Nevis said the Berkeley College Republicans’ board must first have an internal discussion before any specifics are planned.

If there were a debate between the two organizations, Nevis said he would want the discussion to be a “constructive dialogue on the issue” and not a “slug fest.”

During the bake sale Tuesday, BAMN protested with picket signs and chants directly across from the bake sale’s table. Members from both organizations engaged in debate intermittently throughout the day.

The Coalition — a multicultural group whose formation was triggered by the bake sale — has not yet received an invitation to the proposed debate, though if they were to receive an invitation, members declined to say whether they would participate.

Even though The Coalition staged a demonstration on Sproul Plaza during the bake sale,  the timing of their protest was separate and had no relation to the campus Republicans’ event, said Salih Muhammad, a member of The Coalition and chair of the campus Black Student Union.

Although the next move for the Berkeley College Republicans is still tentative, they want to continue to foster a debate surrounding SB 185, Nevis said.

“We intended this bake sale to be controversial, to get people talking, to be offensive — that is what SB 185 does,” Nevis said. “I will continue to say if people remain offended feel free to reach out to us. We are happy to discuss the issue as long as it is in a constructive manner.”