Not In Good Taste

Well-Intentioned Bake Sale Takes Things Too Far

  • Graphic Myriam Arsenault

Considering someone’s race or gender when setting their tuition amount seems ridiculous—almost as ridiculous as charging white people more than black people for cupcakes at a bake sale.

But last week the latter happened, in hopes of preventing the former.

The idea of race-based tuition fees is more formally known as affirmative action—a proposed legislation by United States Democratic Governor Jerry Brown. If it succeeds, colleges in California will be allowed to charge students tuition rates based on ethnicity—in order to level the proverbial playing field.

In protest of this legislation, a Republican group at the University of California, Berkeley, organized an awareness-raising campaign mimicking the concept behind the legislation in bake-sale format.

The group priced their array of baked goods by race, charging $2.00 for white people, $1.50 for Asians, $1.00 for Latinos, $0.75 for African Americans and $0.25 for Native Americans—with women getting an additional $0.25 discount.

While there is merit to supporting the effort and intention to protest affirmative action, which is discriminatory, the bake sale was a trivial and tactless way of handling a very serious issue.

The sale provoked several counter-protests at Berkeley. Members of the university’s black student union dressed all in black and carried signs reading, “Can UC us now?” Other students were ashamed of the bake sale, fearing it could ruin their school’s reputation.

I think we can all agree discrimination is completely uncalled for in universities, but why have these students opted to try and fight fire with fire? Their idea, at its core, encourages students to classify each other by race, and this truth shows through the sale’s sweet exterior.

“It’s unfathomable to think that a university is allowing this,” said Chelsea Da Estrela, an honors psychology student. “To charge someone based on their ethnicity is almost directly placing a value on said culture, which is ethnocentric and unethical for anyone to do.”

The willingness of these students to stand up for something they believe in is valid. If you feel something is wrong with your school, the people running it, or the people attending it, you need to speak out. If you feel like you are being discriminated against, get a group together and fight it.

But don’t fight your cause using the very thing you are fighting.

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