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Cupcake controversy at California college campus

Earlier this month, the College Republicans at the University of California, Berkeley, held a bake sale for what might be the nation’s most controversial cupcake.

The campus organization made headlines when they held a bake sale where the price of baked goods would be based on a sliding scale, meaning the price a student would be charged would be based on his or her gender, racial or ethnic background.

The sliding scale was inspired by Affirmative Action and California bill SB 185, which “would authorize the University of California and California State University system to use race, gender, ethnicity and national origin, along with other relevant factors, in undergraduate and graduate admissions,” the document states.

The initial announcement of the bake sale was met by outrage and cries of racism, responses caused by a failure to understand the sarcasm in the  original Facebook invitation, the organization’s president said. Students demanded the organization retract the statement and call-off the bake sale, sarcasm or not. In the end, the College Republicans held their bake sale with opponents protesting beside them.

The event gained national attention because of its controversial and in your face approach, but wasn’t that the point? I know you’re probably thinking, “what point?” Racism isn’t a valid point.

Contrary to what many people are saying, the point of the sliding scale was to get people to think about the implications and repercussions of Affirmative Action and bills like SB 185.

We are taught from an early age to be embrace diversity and many pride themselves in being “colorblind.” We assume race, gender, ethnicity, and national origin wouldn’t matter, that regardless of whatever we are, we would all be treated equally and afforded the same opportunities. Unfortunately, the notion of the American Dream isn’t anyone’s reality.

Many “White” students may feel they are being discriminated against because they aren’t considered to be the racial minority and, therefore, aren’t given as many tuition breaks. And I can understand this anger, but I think Tim Wise, an American anti-racism activist, said it best: “The point that needs to be made … is that by the time anyone steps on a college campus … there has already been 12 to 13 years of institutionalized affirmative action for white folks, that is to say, racially embedded inequality, which has benefitted those of us who are white.”

It seems to me that the group had a valid point to make, that the world isn’t colorblind. The fact is that our background has everything to do with everything. The point became muddled in this misguided attempt to shed some light on the way we think about Affirmative Action and the opportunities every person may be afforded based on their background.

I want to know what you think. Do you think that, regardless of what the UCB College Republicans say, the bake sale was purposely racist? Do you think the bake sale was racist at all? Do you think our society needs to take a second glance at Affirmative Action and bills like SB 185? What are your experiences and thoughts on Affirmative Action?

Please send all comments, thoughts and letters to Editor-in-Chief Nia Towne at, or the Siskiyou Office in SU 334.

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