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Controversy erupts over Campus Republicans bake sale plans

By the CNN Wire Staff
updated 7:52 AM EDT, Sun September 25, 2011
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • UC Berkeley Campus Republicans plan to charge for baked goods according to race
  • Lewis: Sale makes a statement about pending California legislation
  • Wise: Sale is a "sarcastic and rather smarmy slap at people of color"

(CNN) -- Campus Republicans at the University of California Berkeley have cooked up a storm of controversy with their plans for a bake sale.

But it's not your everyday collegiate fundraiser they've got in mind. They've developed a sliding scale where the price of the cookie or brownie depends on your gender and the color of your skin.

During the sale, scheduled for Tuesday, baked goods will be sold to white men for $2.00, Asian men for $1.50, Latino men for $1.00, black men for $0.75 and Native American men for $0.25. All women will get $0.25 off those prices.

"The pricing structure is there to bring attention, to cause people to get a little upset," Campus Republican President Shawn Lewis, who planned the event, told CNN-affiliate KGO. "But it's really there to cause people to think more critically about what this kind of policy would do in university admissions."

Lewis says it's a way to make a statement about pending legislation that would let the California universities consider race or national origin during the admission process.

But the young Republicans have been on the receiving end of a fierce backlash. Reaction has been so negative they've been forced to cancel their customary lunchtime tabling duties, according to KGO.

Lewis told CNN's Don Lemon that they expected a certain amount of opposition but not the level of outrage they experienced.

"We didn't expect the volume, the amount of response that we got," Lewis said. "In the first few hours, hundreds of posts on our Facebook page. And the tone of some of the responses -- we expected people to be upset. We didn't expect personal threats to be made. They were implicit and explicit threats made to the organizers of the event, from burning down the table to throwing our baked goods at us and other kinds of physical threats."

Tim Wise, author of the book "White Like Me: Reflections on Race from a Privileged Son," calls the bake sale a "sarcastic and rather smarmy slap at people of color."

"There are a lot of ways to make a point about your disagreement with affirmative action," Wise told Lemon Saturday night.

"I get the joke," he continued. "How very original. It's been done for 15 years. The point that I think needs to be made ... is that by the time anyone steps on a college campus ... there has already been 12- to 13-years of institutionalized affirmative action for white folks, that is to say, racially embedded inequality, which has benefited those of us who are white. And it's only at the point of college admissions that these folks seem to get concerned with color consciousness."

Lewis insists, however, that Campus Republicans will go ahead with their bake sale and are committed to their controversial pricing structure.

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