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At the University of California Berkeley, Berkeley Campus Republicans (BCR) are planning to reprise a concept designed to demonstrate the absurdity of race and gender quotas. An “Increase Diversity” bake sale in which the price of goods sold will be based on one’s gender or race is scheduled for tomorrow from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sproul Plaza. The sale is in response to SB 185, a bill introduced by Democratic state Senator Ed Hernandez in February of 2011, which asks the California State University “to consider race, gender, ethnicity, and national origin, along with other relevant factors, in undergraduate and graduate admissions.” The bill is currently awaiting the signature of California Gov. Jerry Brown.
The sale will feature the following price structure for all baked goods: $2 for white people, $1.50 for Asians, $1 for Latinos, 75 cents for African-Americans, and 25 cents for Native Americans. Women of all races get a discount of 25 cents off those prices.
“The pricing structure is there to bring attention, to cause people to get a little upset,” said Campus Republican President Shawn Lewis, who planned the event, told KGO-TV in San Francisco. “But it’s really there to cause people to think more critically about what this kind of policy would do in university admissions.”
Mr. Lewis revealed that the backlash to the Facebook posting of the event was far greater than anticipated. ”We didn’t expect the volume, the amount of response that we got,” he 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.”
The original Facebook posting noted that “Most students feel that their voices aren’t heard in the baked goods distribution process controversy. They also believe that our UCs and CSUs need to be more diverse. YOU have the OPPORTUNITY to increase DIVERSITY and student VOICES by buying some PASTRIES and helping redistribute wealth for SOCIAL JUSTICE through BAKED GOODS on Sproul Plaza (9/27/11).”
Berkeley College Republicans will be SELLING BAKED GOODS from 10 AM – 2PM across from the Affirmative Action Phonebank on Upper Sproul, and just like the CA Senate Bills 185 and 387 the phonebank supports, we will be considering RACE, GENDER, ETHNICITY, NATIONAL/GEOGRAPHIC ORIGIN and other relevant factors to ensure the EQUITABLE distribution of BAKED GOODS to our DIVERSE! student body.
After listing the aforementioned prices, the posting finished with one more satirical tweak. “Hope to see you all there! If you don’t come, you’re a racist!”
After the outburst, this original posting was removed and replaced with something less controversial. Lewis, in a Facebook comment, insisted the new version “in no way means to ‘cover up’ the previous description.” The new page explained that “the pricing structure of the baked goods is meant to be satirical, while urging students to think more critically about the implications of this policy.”
Unfortunately, critical thinking is in short supply at Berkeley. ”The way they made the statement, the words that they used, the fact that they humorized and mocked the struggles of people of color on this campus is very disgusting to me,” said Campus Democrats president Anais LaVoie, who has demanded an apology. That sentiment was echoed by student Marco Amaral, one of the organizers of an “emergency town hall” event on Friday evening, aimed at discussing the controversy. “The initial reaction of the community was a beautiful thing,” he said. “The multicultural community on campus stands in unity against racism, sexism, and any type of prejudice.”
Not really. A meeting of the Associated Students of the University of California (ASUC), scheduled for last night at 6PM PST, reveals that satire, as well as free speech (especially if it is effective) is off-limits at Berkeley. The BCR may have its sponsorship revoked by the ASUC. Why? For violating the ASUC’s constitution, which says the Senate “shall not fund any activity or group which discriminates against any student by race, color, religion, marital status, national origin, sex, age, sexual orientation, physical disability, or political activity, or belief in its method or recruitment and acceptance for membership.”
Apparently, as far as the ASUC is concerned, only the state can do that.
An email by ASUC President Vishalli Loomba further illuminates the intellectual vacuity and constitutional ignorance that afflicts far too many Berkeley students. While she writes that “I fully support the idea of members of BCR expressing their views on SB 185,” she concludes that the BCR “went too far in its actions,” noting that punitive measures are “definitely a possibility.” Thus, freedom of speech is acceptable — as long as it doesn’t go “too far.”
Joey Freeman, ASUC external affairs vice president, who characterized the bake sale as “incredibly offensive,” took a different tack. He defended SB 185, noting that the bill would only allow, as opposed to require, race and nationality to be considered in college admissions.
That is true, but that statement omits a few inconvenient realities. First, the bill went through two amendment processes, in April and May of 2011, respectively, before it reached its current incarnation. In April, the bill still contained language requiring the California State University to consider, not only race, gender, ethnicity, and national origin, but geographic origin, and household income as well, in the admissions process. The last two were stricken from the final bill.
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