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Berkeley bake sale stirs up not so sweet reaction

Posted by mgonzalez on Nov 7th, 2011 and filed under Opinion. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

Controversy arises regarding UC Berkeley Republican Club’s bake sale where price was determined by ethnicity and gender.

Point:

The University of California, Berkeley’s Republican Club recently sponsored a diversity bake sale in which goods were priced and sold on the basis of a buyer’s race or ethnicity. It was in protest of a State Bill which would allow UC and Cal State University systems to consider ethnicity and race in admissions. Although it was not a typical innocent bake sale, this act was a creative and lighthearted approach of bringing attention to a controversial issue. Affirmative action has been a topic of contention long before the passage of Proposition 209.

The University of California, Berkeley is just one of many schools with students concerned about the predilection given to minority students regarding admissions and costs. The issue is far from a simple campus debate; it’s a national issue.

Ultimately the bake sale helped to bring necessary awareness to an issue about which students around the country have strong opinions. The Berkeley students did not employ any harsh or insensitive methods in spreading their message.

The distinctive price tags: which included $2 for Caucasians, $1.50 for Asians, $1.00 for African Americans and $.25 for Native Americans, were not intended to discriminate but rather to make a point humorously. The club sold to anyone who wanted to pay for the treats.

Those offended overlook the bigger picture behind the bake sale and needlessly take the price divisions personally. The only intention was to create awareness.

Berkeley students have certainly never been shy about expressing their views, and the bake sale is a good example. Freedom of speech is ensured on college campuses which is exactly what the bake sale was.  As free thinking intellectuals, students were not causing anyone any harm by selling cupcakes; they were just adding their own political spin to it.

Counterpoint:

A trending topic in the news, affirmative action bake sales have penetrated the hallowed liberal grounds of the University of California, Berkeley, a common site of protests.

The sole intent of the Berkeley bake sale organized by the Berkeley College Republicans was to draw nationwide attention to a California issue: the expected signing of State Bill 185, allowing the consideration of race and gender into the University of California admissions process.

The overwhelming support the bake sale received may have influenced Governor Brown’s decision to veto the bill. The reduced prices reflect the permanent gap between the earning potential of different races.

The sale attempted to spark outrage by highlighting the imperfections of the affirmative action system. Despite its clear motive, the bake sale is a highly irresponsible way to protest the proposed changes to the University of California application system.

To portray affirmative action more accurately and effectively the event organizers needed to make some changes.

First, the bake sale should have been more intellectually stimulating. They may be getting thousands of customers after all. Disregard set prices.

They must focus on coupons to increase business by attracting people who wouldn’t have bought cookies otherwise.

Recognizing the strong correlation between race and socio-economic conditions, more coupons should have been distributed to the races most likely to need them.

Instead of a witty, peaceful form of protest, the bake sale comes off as a loud speaker for generalizations and irrational thought.

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