Quick Takes: UC Berkeley’s “Affirmative Action” Bake Sale

The primary purpose was to mock Senate Bill 185, a bill that would allow California’s university systems to consider gender, race and ethnicity in admission decisions. While the bill is undoubtedly contentious, the bake sale’s intended racism went over the top, muddling the organizer’s intended message of promoting critical thought.

SB 185’s attempt to increase diversity in California’s university systems is an obvious subject of debate. But simplifying the concept of affirmative action into a bake sale with differential pricing is not comparable to the issue at hand. The mission of SB 185 — which is surely debatable — is to make the student bodies of California state universities more representative of the state’s population in terms of gender, race and ethnicity — not to charge students varying tuition prices or to impose value judgments on others.

A cupcake is not an apt comparison to an entire university campus — the entire community benefits from a diverse peer group while the price of a dessert only affects one person. Therefore, the bake sale seems to eliminate the most important aspect of the bill — it’s not about individuals.

There’s a thin line between comedy and bigotry when it comes to satire, and Berkeley’s College Republican Club crossed it with the bake sale.
 — Arik Burakovsky
Senior Staff Writer

Satire is Meant to Push Buttons
Political controversy is once more cooking up at UC Berkeley — this time as a result of a College Republican Club bake sale that offers discounted prices to women and minorities. However, the group’s actions were not in poor taste — their primary motive was to satirize parts of Senate Bill 185.

SB 185 calls for the UC and CSU systems to consider race, gender, ethnicity, national origin and other relevant factors in their undergraduate and graduate admissions. If passed, the bill would create gray areas that arguably allow for abuse in admissions selectivity without liability.
The bill does not connect these factors to the college applicant’s socioeconomic status. In theory, it only authorizes the universities to use race alone as a factor. The cupcake prices — higher for Caucasians and lower for minorities — mock the bill’s intentions to demonstrate that race cannot be used in substitution for socioeconomic status.
President of Berkeley’s College Republicans, Shawn Lewis stated the group was aware that the public display was inherently racist. Their main point was that if everyone is to be treated as equals, scholarships and admission tickets should not be offered at different “prices” for different races.
It’s political satire, it’s button-pushing and it’s intentionally racist to drive a point home. If a group of college students can fashion a display that attracts notice within an endless stream of demonstrations, then it has succeeded in its purpose.
— Hilary Lee
Staff Writer

Speech is Free but Cupcakes are Not
UC Berkeley College Republican Club recently held a satirical “Increase Diversity Bake Sale” to discourage the signing of Senate Bill 185, which supports the inclusion of race as a factor in the California college admissions process.

Baked goods were controversially sold to individuals at varying prices based on race and gender to illustrate the unfair nature of the bill. Regardless of how radical and offensive the bake sale may have been, the club was still entitled to its first amendment right of free speech.

The Supreme Court has recognized that free speech rights may only be limited where speech “may cause a breach of the peace or cause violence.”

According to the Cal republican president and various participants, the bake sale was peaceful and stirred up discussion amongst students without leading to violence. These students had every right to legally voice their opinions and peacefully make a statement about the way the state functions.

Furthermore, protests of this nature are not uncommon on the UC Berkeley campus. The free speech movement was started at Berkeley nearly 5 decades ago featuring nearly 10,000 students and police car damage. The selling of baked goods pales in comparison to the security-filled protests of the university’s past.

This bake sale at UC Berkeley is justified purely on the basis of free speech and the media is simply over-publicizing insignificant news.
— Revathy Sampath-Kumar
Staff Writer