Should the Anti-Affirmative Action Bake Sale Be Banned?

Let me preface this by saying that I’m a great believer in affirmative action and that I consider the students at UC Berkeley who tried to organize a bake sale protesting the affirmative action to be silly, ignorant fools. However, the folks who believe the event should be prevented from taking place are also silly, ignorant fools.

In case you haven’t been following the story, here is what happened:

UC Berkeley student senators voted Sunday to condemn discriminatory behavior on campus – even if done in satire – in response to a Republican student group’s plans for an “Increase Diversity Bake Sale,” with pastries labeled according to race and gender. . .

The Republicans’ posting describes five price levels for their bake sale, with pastries described as “White/Caucasian” going for $2, “Asian/American American” for $1.50, “Latino/Hispanic” for $1, “Black/African American” for 75 cents, and “Native American” for a quarter. A 25-cent discount is offered for women. “If you don’t come, you’re a racist,” the post declares.

Hundreds of students opposed the bake sale on Facebook, and many sent letters of complaint to campus administrators. Alfredo Mireles, Jr., a UCSF nursing student who sits on UC’s Board of Regents, issued a statement condemning “a common stunt performed by college Republican groups to protest affirmative action policies.”

Of course, this is nothing but an ignorant stunt. What is disturbing, however, is how quickly the students who are unhappy with it turn to the parental figures of authority to protect them from ideas they don’t like. College is the first taste of adulthood many students experience. It is sad to see that many of them are not ready for the opportunity to live like independent adults and still try to recruit Mommy and Daddy figures to make the bad guys stop saying unpleasant, “hurtful” things.

The adult thing to do would be for the dissenting students to boycott the bake sale (and what brings the point across better than having nobody attend the event?), to organize a competing event at the same time that would draw audiences away from the anti-affirmative action stunt, start a debate on the issue, engage their peers intellectually, etc.

It is also very sad that students seem to think that the only speech worth protecting is the one they agree with. It’s hard to engage with ideas that bother you intellectually. Arguing, debating, organizing alternative events – who needs all that when you can just run to the authorities and complain that somebody’s freedom of expression is hurting your feelings?

13 thoughts on “Should the Anti-Affirmative Action Bake Sale Be Banned?”

  1. I don’t doubt there are people who are calling for the event to be banned. I haven’t heard any, though. I have heard many call for the College Republicans on the campus to lose their funding, which, from my understanding, comes from Student Government, which requires that groups must not be discriminatory in order to receive funding. I do think that they should lose their funding.

    I was in SGA at my university for two years, and was involved, among other things, in evaluating applications from student groups for funding. They were required to tell us what they’d use this funding for, among other things. If any group wanted funding to be discriminatory, whether or not to make a point, they would not have gotten money to do it. That doesn’t mean that the group would be dissolved, or that they would be prevented from getting money elsewhere, just that they couldn’t receive money from SGA to do it. SGA’s budget comes from a student fee, and it’s to be used for the benefit of students. It’s a sort of trust. Using students money to discriminate against students is not going to fly. And it shouldn’t.

    I feel rather sorry for the SGA at this school–being representatives of the student body is difficult enough, being under constant scrutiny on all sides on campus. I can’t imagine the pressure from having the entire nation watching.

    I’m also grateful that the CRs at my school were not so foolish and lacking in respect for their fellow students.

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  2. So, any Native American women could clear them out for free, resell the baked goods and make a nice chunk of change. I don’t believe this group thought through their pricing scheme very well.

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    1. I wholeheartedly support this mode of action. If I were a student there, that would be my plan. I’d call it “Sakakawea’s revenge”.
      I’m a little saddened that they didn’t include a cookie discount for disabled folk or queer/trans people even though we benefit from affirnative action as well (at least both do in Canada) Then they would have had to pay me a nickel for taking their cookie.

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  3. I am divided here… I do see your point, but in the same time I have a feeling you are propagating something I call “karate kid mentality”.
    If some criminal accosts me on the street I will call the police, it will not occur to me to prefer dealing with it “man to man”. Not just because I believe the police is more competent to deal with such people, but exactly because I do not consider myself and a criminal attacking people in the streets equally worthy. Fighting him “man to man” would be an admission I see his “point”, however anyone wants to construe it, as equal to mine.
    Same with the freedom of speech. Unless one is into some sort of universal acceptance, one considers some things to be truly offensive. Some things may be so offensive that they are not worthy of a “man to man fight”.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I consider what these students are doing to be truly offensive. But “I’d be ready to die to defend their right to say it.” 🙂

      Or let’s take Holocaust deniers, for example. I hate them so much, it makes me hypertensive. But if somebody decided to prevent them from publishing their Holocaust-denying books, I’d protest and organize to stop this kind of censorship.

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