College bake sale criticized for racial tones

FILE - S'Mores Cookies are seen in this Sunday, Oct. 26, 2008 photo. (AP Photo/Larry Crowe)
September 23, 2011 7:19:23 PM PDT
A group of students planning a bake sale doesn't usually stir up much controversy -- unless the bake sale comes with a politically-charged twist. Campus Democrats President Anais LaVoie thinks one Berkeley group has crossed the line.

On Upper Sproul Plaza, where free speech reigns supreme, the Berkeley College Republicans have scheduled a bake sale where the price of a cookie or a brownie depends on your gender and the color of your skin.

The price of a baked good costs $2 for white people, $1.50 if you're Asian, $1 for Latinos, 75 cents for African-Americans and 25 cents for Native Americans.

Women get a discount of 25 cents.

Club president Shawn Lewis planned the event.

"The pricing structure is there to bring attention, to cause people to get a little upset," said Lewis. "But it's really there to cause people to think more critically about what this kind of policy would do in university admissions."

Lewis says the bake sale is the club's way of taking a stand against pending legislation that would let the University of California consider a student's race or national origin during the admission process.

The bake sale wasn't the first of its kind: A similar pricing structure was used for a similar sale in 2009 at Purdue, and the same year, another similar bake sale was held at Bucknell before it was shut down by school officials.

The nasty comments began as soon as the event was posted by Lewis on Facebook. Lewis said several members who created the event have been threatened.

The response was so strong and so negative, the College Republicans group canceled their usual lunchtime tabling at their usual spot for fear their volunteers would be harassed.

"It certainly is stirring emotions," said Lewis, "and that's what we want, but we certainly don't want people to think that we're making fun of racial issues or laughing at them because that's not the message of the bake sale."

But that's the message Campus Democrats took away.

"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 LaVoie.

Many other students were equally disgusted. One student said they didn't want to buy the cookies, while another said the group is missing the point.

"it's wrong to try to make a statement about something that serious by using something like a bake sale," said student one student.

Though the Campus Democrats have asked for an apology, the bake sale is still scheduled for Tuesday.


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