This past Tuesday, the University of California Berkeley College Republicans hosted a diversity bake sale. What made it a “diversity” bake sale? Well, they tailored their prices based on race. Caucasians had to pay $2.00 for baked goods while Asians had to pay $1.50, Latinos paid $1.00, Blacks $.75, Native Americans $0.25 and all women got an extra .25 off. The Berkeley College Republicans were trying to make a point. Jerry Brown was about to sign legislation, SB 185, that would allow race, ethnicity and gender be considered for college admissions “so long as no preference is given.” Supporters of the bill are quick to point out that this is NOT affirmative action. “California’s Constitution prohibits “preferential treatment” on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity or national origin in public employment, public education or public contracting.” This prohibition was further ratified by voters 15 years ago when proposition 209 passed in 1996. However it is naive to believe that no preferences would be given if race is being considered at all. “I don’t think they could consider a person’s race without giving some edge to that person,” said Ward Connerly, a former UC regent and author of Prop. 209. “Would they give it a little weight? A little nudge? A strict reading of Prop. 209 says you cannot discriminate or grant preferential treatment.”
This bake sale caused a huge uproar and there were protests over the Facebook page of the event. Liberals were mad. “It’s racist!” they claimed. It was all over the news. Every news channel from MSNBC to Fox covered the bake sale trying to stir up debate. What I don’t understand is that a bake sale with different prices based on race is racist, however admitting people in college based on race isn’t?? That is pure hypocrisy to me.
What the UC Berkeley college Republicans were trying to point out with this “discriminatory” bake sale is that if a person considered their bake sale “racist,” then SB 185 should be considered racist. They tried to convey it in a way that college students can really relate to. Why should race be considered for college admissions when it’s not considered in everyday life. The bake sale is racist? No. The bill that is waiting for approval or veto by Jerry Brown is racist. Not as blatantly racist as the bake sale but definitely racist.
There are a few problems I see with SB 185:
“This bill would authorize the University of California and the California State University to consider race, gender, ethnicity, and national origin, along with other relevant factors, in undergraduate and graduate admissions, to the maximum extent permitted by the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution, Section 31 of Article I of the California Constitution, and relevant case law.”
1. The language of this bill is vague. What is “other relevant factors”?? The language used opens it up for ‘abuse’ and little to no accountability. If any future cases come up, how are they going to argue against “other relevant factors”?
2. This brings me to my next point. This bill states that race should be a factor into college admissions. But what about socioeconomic status? If the whole point of the bill is the “equalize” the admission process for higher education, why should it be based on race and the color of someone’s skin instead of their socioeconomic standing (which actually affects their opportunities)?
SB 185 was an obscure bill which did not have the attention of media or Californians until the uproar about the bake sale. It would have quietly passed into law if Jerry Brown signs it. The bake sale brought it into attention and now there is a debate about it. Precisely the intention of the sale.