Bake Sale Overshadows Phone Bank:Affirmative Action Debate at UC Berkeley

Mark Laluan

Cal students protest against SB 185.

Berkeley College Republicans stole the stage as UC Berkeley’s student government held a phone bank promoting SB 185.

SB 185 would allow admissions offices in institutions of public higher education to consider “race, ethnicity, gender and other relevant factors during the admissions process.”

To protest the phone bank, the College Republicans set up an “Affirmative Action Bake Sale” to, in their words, “use satire to draw attention to the discriminatory nature of SB 185’s content.”

Tuesday’s protest by the College Republicans had an advertised pricing structure based on race, which saw white males charged more than those of other minorities and women given a general discount. On the day of the event, purchases of the College Republican’s baked goods were allowed to set their own price.

The College Republicans managed to take in over $800 through the event.

The President of Cal’s College Republican club, Shawn Lewis, characterized his group’s protest as a stand against discrimination.

“We feel that granting special treatment to individuals because of the color of their skin is discriminatory,” said Lewis.

“Affirmative action does not reward people based on merit. The bake sale pricing reflects the status quo situation where people are being rewarded on the color of their skin, not their ability,” continued Lewis.

Racial based affirmative action has been illegal in California since the passage of Proposition 209 in 1996. The proposition halted institutions of public higher education from using race, ethnicity or gender from use in admissions decisions.

One of the organizers of the SB 185 phone bank, Devonte Jackson, Associated Students of the University of California (ASUC) Campus Organizing Director, believes that the College Republicans were attacking the campus community with their rhetoric.

“People are angry at the College Republicans,” said Jackson. “They are openly attacking underrepresented communities. While they have the right to make a point, they could have done it in a classier manner.”

Another ASUC organizer, Joey Freeman, the ASUC Vice President of External Affairs agreed that the College Republican event was in poor taste.

“Cal students in general agree that the College Republicans have the right to free speech,” said Freeman. “However, we believe student groups on campus should be respectful.”

In an emergency session of the ASUC last Sunday, that body passed a resolution, “A Bill in Support of Respectful ASUC Student Group Conduct,” which would punish student groups who actively discriminated in events which could include but are not limited to satire.

Speculation has risen if punitive action, such as cutting off their funding or disestablishment, would be taken by the ASUC against the College Republicans over their “bake sale.” Freeman has indicated that the ASUC would leave any “judgment” of the College Republicans and their actions to ASUC’s Judicial Council.

ASUC President Vishalli Loomba has indicated that at the very least College Republican club funding would not be affected by the “bake sale.”

“The College Republicans did not go through with their initial, advertised pricing scale so they cannot be directly accused of discrimination, although their event could have been more considerate,” said Loomba. “There is no funding issue for the College Republicans.”

For Alexander Salazar, his participation in the College Republican event was based on his opinion that the ASUC phone bank was not representative of his opinion and voice.

“The ASUC’s viewpoint is not representative of all students, we are here today to encourage dialogue and be listened too. I want to be judged on my ability, not my color and that’s why I’m protesting against SB 185 and the ASUC’s phone bank.”