Berkeley College Republicans Resurrect “Diversity Bake Sale” Scheme

Responding to an apparently ongoing controversy over diversity standards in admissions, the Berkely College Republicans are holding a Bake Sale:

BERKELEY, Calif. — A bake sale sponsored by a Republican student group at the University of California, Berkeley, has incited anger and renewed the debate over affirmative action by asking students to pay different prices for pastry, depending on their race and sex.

Last week, the Berkeley College Republicans announced its “Increase Diversity Bake Sale,” scheduled for Tuesday. On Facebook, the group listed the price for a pastry at $2 for white students, $1.50 for Asian students, $1 for Latinos, 75 cents for African-Americans and 25 cents for Native Americans. Women of all races were promised a 25-cent discount.

“Hope to see you all there! If you don’t come, you’re a racist!” the Facebook event page said. (It has since been taken down and replaced with milder text.)

“We expected people to be upset,” the group’s president, Shawn Lewis, 20, a third-year political science major, said Monday in a telephone interview. “Treating people differently based on the color of their skin is wrong, and we wanted people to be upset about that.”

The bake sale was scheduled to protest a phone bank organized by the Associated Students of the University of California, the campus student government group, where students planned to call Gov. Jerry Brown and urge him to sign a Senate bill that would allow public universities to consider race, gender and ethnicity in admissions decisions. In 1996, voters in the state passed a ballot initiative, known as Proposition 209, prohibiting affirmative action in admissions.

“The bake sale is a misguided attempt by the Berkeley College Republicans to make a political point about their opposition to a particular bill,” said Gibor Basri, the university’s vice chancellor for equity and inclusion and a professor of astronomy. “A lot of students, especially students of color, read it as placing a higher value on white students.”

In response to the bake sale, the Associated Students, which provides money to the Berkeley College Republicans and other political groups for events on campus, called an emergency meeting on Sunday, leaders said. It passed a resolution condemning discriminatory events on campus whether or not they are meant to be satirical.

Not long after the bake sale page went up on Facebook, hundreds of people posted comments expressing outrage over or support for the sale and affirmative action in general.

“Perhaps you should be charging women and Latinas double to better reflect the fact that we’re being paid 78 cents and 59 cents to the white man’s dollar,” wrote Ally Wong.

Others worried more about the pastries. “The educational value of this exercise will be lost when Pocahontas walks away with a truckload of free cupcakes,” wrote Mike Creamer.

This isn’t a new idea, of course. David Weigel uncovered news stories going back to 2002 reporting on the same event happening on other campuses, with the prices unchanged ironically enough (which tells that at least when it comes to baked goods, the value of the dollar remains strong). I seem to remember hearing about it happening before 2002 as well, although I haven’t been able to uncover any news stories confirming that. In any event, this strikes me as another one of the silly little events that college students do when they like to pretend they’re being politically involved. In this particular case, it’s also being done to be deliberately provocative. Although I’m sure everyone on campus appreciates having easy access to bear claws and muffins.

Photo via ABC News

FILED UNDER: Race and Politics, US Politics, , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. samwide says:

    In any event, this strikes me as another one of the silly little events that college students do when they like to pretend they’re being politically involved. In this particular case, it’s also being done to be deliberately provocative. Although I’m sure everyone on campus appreciates having easy access to bear claws and muffins.


    But Republicans at UCB are really a put-upon minority. They should’ve been listed on the menu, too (down at the very bottom), as something like:

    Republicans of any color or sexual orientation — Free

    Not that there’d have been any great run on the pastries, mind you.

  2. Jay Tea says:

    Ah, the classics… nice to see today’s youth still have respect for tradition.


  3. James Joyner says:

    It would have been funnier if they’d had “DOJ employee – $16” on the list. But, yeah, this seems tired. I seem to remember this from the 1980s, even.

  4. Tsar Nicholas II says:

    The real irony here is the Obama presidency itself is the best argument in history against “affirmative action,” yet next November among the college student demographic who manage to wake up from their stupors to vote around 80% of them nevertheless will cast their lots to reelect the guy. In other words, not only is youth wasted on the youth but in this day and age stupidity quite literally repeats itself.

  5. @Tsar Nicholas II: @Tsar Nicholas II:

    And one could say that the Bush 43 Administration is the best argument in history against legacy admissions and putting people in positions because of family connections.

  6. @Tsar Nicholas II:
    @Doug Mataconis:

    Guys! Guys! We don’t have to fight. Bush and Obama can BOTH be terrible presidents!

  7. @Stormy Dragon:

    That’s my general opinion

  8. Franklin says:

    @James Joyner: Ha, I wish I could give you several more thumbs up!

  9. Gustopher says:

    Perhaps I am growing more and more crotchety in my old age, but when someone is trying so hard to be provocative and clever, I wish someone would mace them. No permanent damage, just a shot of mace into their smug, privileged little faces. But, I suppose violence is wrong…

    Can we bus in some New Black Panthers to stand around and look menacing while eating discount crullers?

  10. legion says:

    @Stormy Dragon: You got your chocolate in my peanut butter!

  11. Rob in CT says:

    It’s just so precious when a bunch of privileged people whine to the world about how oppressed they are, isn’t it?

  12. @Rob in CT:

    I feel much the same way about the privileged kids who whine about how unfair the world is to the “oppressed” while receiving an education that will guarantee them access to the places of power

  13. SnarkyAtLaw says:

    The biggest indicator that they are recycling an old, out of date trick is that, if their “affirmative action pricing” reflected actual UC Berkeley enrollment, only Asians would be paying full price.

    But it’s nice to know that Native American women get their pastries for free.

    Also, nobody at UC Berkeley should be complaining that they’re going to be disadvantaged for any reason, including because they are white males. You go to BERKELEY. That alone gives you an advantage over the majority of non-Berkeley grads in California. Dry your tears and suck it up.

    (Go Bears, Beat Stanford.)

  14. Jay says:

    There’s nothing more annoying than self-righteous college kids.

    There is an interesting angle to this issue though – California has one of the most ruthlessly merit-based admissions process in the country. Affirmative Action would change that (maybe to the detriment of one of the groups listed on the bake sale list – Asians).