On Wednesday, UC Berkeley’s College Republicans held a bake sale, not to raise funds but, as is the trend these days, to raise awareness.
The Berkeley College Republicans charged different prices for the cookies, not based on the type of cookies but on the type of people buying them – so much for Caucasians, so much for Latinos, so much for blacks and so on down the price scale.
“We asked people approaching the table what ethnicity they most closely associated themselves with,” Dave Galich, president of the BCR said. “We charged them 25 cents if they were black or Native American, 75 cents if they were Latino, $1.25 if they were Asian, or $1.50 if they were white.”
It was an anti-affirmative action bake sale, one of several at college campuses around the nation. The race-based pricing was meant to show how affirmative action is racist, said Galich.
Ed Chen, executive director of the College Republicans at UCSB, said that a similar anti-affirmative action bake sale was planned on the campus of UCSB, but it has been postponed due to questions over its potentially offensive nature.
“We’ve been talking about it, but we don’t want to alienate potential members,” Chen said. “It would be very provocative, but we’re not sure if we want to unnecessarily offend people.”
Chen said that the black caucus of the California Republican Party is against the anti-affirmative action bake sales because its members found the content offensive. Shannon Reeves, secretary of the California Republican Party, further discouraged UCSB’s College Republicans from participating in the cookie sales during his visit to UCSB Thursday night. Reeves, who is part of the black caucus, was on campus to give a lecture entitled “Jesse Jackson’s Worst Nightmare” about his involvement in the Republican Party as a minority.
“We are trying to be a party of inclusion, the party of Lincoln,” Chen said.
Galich said the Berkeley bake sale was intended to “create a tangible argument so people could see how affirmative action would work if it was applied to everyday life, and … how absurd it is.”
The BCR tried to use the same ethnic categories that the UC uses on admissions applications to determine who paid how much for each cookie. Similar anti-affirmative action bake sales were also held at UCLA and the University of Michigan.
Galich said BCR received mixed reactions to its table, which was located in Berkeley’s Sproul Plaza, where many student groups get together to raise money or attract new members.
“I think it went very well, we accomplished our goals,” Galich said. “Some people thought it was comical, but it made them think about affirmative action in a different light.”
Hoku Jeffrey, a fourth-year Berkeley ethnic studies major and member of the pro-affirmative action group By Any Means Necessary, spoke in defense of the ethnic preference program to media in front of the BCR bake sale table.
“I thought it was ironic that what they thought they were doing was anti-affirmative action, when they only succeeded in bringing to light the need for affirmative action,” Jeffrey said. “They were conceding that there is a racial disparity in pay. If people are getting paid differently, it’s only fair that people pay different prices.”
Affirmative action policies in the United States were implemented by federal agencies in the 1970s to enforce the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which was, among many things, aimed at correcting past societal discriminations against minorities in hiring and salary disparities.
Much like the 1978 Bakke vs. UC Board of Regents Supreme Court decision that outlawed racial quotas, California Proposition 209 in 1995 banned the use of race as a factor in determining admission to schools in the UC system, partly as a result of public backlash against perceived reverse discrimination. However, recent admissions policy changes approved by the board of regents do incorporate subjective evaluations of social hardships faced by potential applicants.
In 2001, blacks made up 2.9 percent of the entire UC system enrollment, Asian-Americans made up 30.8 percent, Latinos made up 3 percent and whites comprised 35.6 percent.
Berkeley enrollment figures for 2001 consisted of a student body that was 3.8 percent black, 37.6 percent Asian-American, 2.5 percent Latino and 28.5 percent white.
In 2001, according to enrollment figures for UCSB, blacks made up 2.6 percent of the total; Asian-Americans, 11.2 percent; Latinos, 4 percent; and whites, 55.2 percent.
According to the UC Affirmative Action Guidelines for Recruitment and Retention of Faculty, current UC hiring policy is not bound by Prop 209 guidelines and the University continues to hire staff “to promote equal employment opportunity and diversity.”