NEW: Other colleges across the country have held similar events
The sale is meant to protest a bill that would allow the consideration of race and gender in admissions
Berkeley's student government is hosting a call-in to encourage support for the bill
Campus Republicans' president: "We agree that the event is inherently racist, but that is the point"
It’s meant to be racist, and it’s meant to be discriminatory.
And the controversial “Increase Diversity Bake Sale” hosted by the Berkeley College Republicans is still on, the club’s president said, despite “grossly misguided comments” and threats aimed at supporters of the University of California, Berkeley, student group.
During the sale, scheduled for Tuesday, baked goods will be sold to white men for $2, Asian men for $1.50, Latino men for $1, black men for 75 cents and Native American men for 25 cents. All women will get 25 cents off those prices.
The bake sale is meant to draw attention to pending legislation that would allow California universities to consider race, gender, ethnicity and national origin during the admissions process.
“We agree that the event is inherently racist, but that is the point,” BCR President Shawn Lewis wrote in response to upheaval over the bake sale. “It is no more racist than giving an individual an advantage in college admissions based solely on their race (or) gender.”
Similar events have been held at other colleges across the country, generally organized by college Republican groups. In some cases – such as at Berkeley – the plan sparked controversy and protests.
Other times, university officials stepped in.
At Bucknell University in Pennsylvania, officials shut down one of the bake sales on campus. Officials at The College of William and Mary in Virginia cut off a cookie sale, saying they were “shocked and appalled.”
The University of California, Irvine, shut down a bake sale on campus, saying it was discriminatory. A bake sale at Southern Methodist University in Texas was shut down after 45 minutes because of what officials called an “unsafe environment,” according to local reports.
Lewis said the bake sale at Berkeley was unanimously agreed upon by the club, whose leadership includes Asian and Hispanic students and whose membership represents a “wide variety of ethnic backgrounds.”
“More than half of the voices were female,” he added.
Berkeley’s student government, the Associated Students of the University of California, held an emergency Senate meeting late Sunday to discuss the issue and passed a resolution that, in part, “condemns the use of discrimination whether it is in satire or in seriousness by any student group.”
“I completely support the idea of BCR – or any students on campus – (having) political discussion,” ASUC President Vishalli Loomba said. “I think student members of BCR have a full right to express their feelings, but I don’t necessarily think this tactic is constructive. I strongly encourage them to engage in this dialogue in a more constructive manner, such as a forum or a town hall meeting.’
But the bake sale is intended to be a direct, “physical counterpoint” to an ASUC-sponsored phone bank – also scheduled for Tuesday – during which students will be encouraged to call Gov. Jerry Brown’s office to support the legislation, Lewis said. The ASUC has endorsed the legislation, SB 185.
Lewis said supporters of the bake sale have received threats, including people who said they will “stop by the table only to knock it over” or “buy a cupcake just to throw it at (us).”
“Some of the threats online have gotten more specific, but we’re hoping that’s just emotion,” he said.
While the initial feedback to the planned sale was largely in heated opposition, responses have “plateaued” and include the support of self-described Democrats, Lewis said.
Loomba, the student government president, said she is concerned about students potentially feeling ostracized due to the bake sale.
“I have heard that from numerous students who have said this makes students feel unwelcome on campus,” she said. “For that reason alone, we should think about what events we have on campus.”
Loomba described the situation as a “campus climate issue.”
“UC Berkeley stands for a place where everyone – regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation – should feel inclusive,” she said. “I think they should be able to express their opinion, but keep that value in mind.”
As for where the bake sale proceeds will go, Lewis said the College Republicans are considering several charities.
But “because of all this controversy, we don’t want to advertise the organization,” he said. “We don’t want to cause them problems.”