Wednesday, June 19

Bake sale cooks up controversy


When she saw the signs for an “affirmative action bake
sale,” third-year theater student Constance Reese just had to
let her non-Bruin friends know.

Standing on Bruin Walk on Wednesday afternoon, she pointed her
cell phone’s tiny camera lens at signs held by Bruin
Republicans, one listing varying prices for cookies and cupcakes
““ 30 cents for Hispanics, $1 for white males, and, for gays,
lesbians and Native Americans, the message said, “We pay
you!”

SLIDESHOW
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event.

On a day when supporters of National Take Affirmative Action Day
used large signs, speeches and shouts ““ the usual stuff of
protests at UCLA ““ to voice their support for affirmative
action in a rally at Meyerhoff Park, other students used a more
unconventional method to take action against affirmative action:
protest via confection.

Bruin Republicans and Bruins Against Affirmative Action held an
affirmative action bake sale Wednesday in protest of National Take
Affirmative Action Day, for which students from a variety of other
groups came out in support.

National Take Affirmative Action Day was created by the United
States Student Association in 2001. The event takes place on
campuses across the country, and each campus holds a rally to
support affirmative action programs.

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At UCLA, where Proposition 209 has eliminated all use of
affirmative action in admissions, student listened to UCLA faculty
and students speak about their support of bringing back affirmative
action and supporting it nationally.

But the bake sale organizers got a head start, setting up shop
at 10 a.m. at a table on Bruin Walk. The sale had about four to
five organizers working the table, while rally participants and
passersby surrounded the table at times throughout the day to
engage the organizers.

“We feel that race-based affirmative action … is reverse
racism,” said Bruin Republicans Whip Heather Gonzalez.
“We do feel though that there are problems at the
socioeconomic level, but they need to be addressed before the
college admissions process.”

Throughout the day, they received what they called
“suggested donations” ““ harsh words from those
who found their display offensive and constructive discussion with
others.

“A lot of the conversations have been kind of hateful
toward us, and that’s to be expected,” said Thomas
McKenna, a third-year aerospace engineering student and Bruin
Republicans member.

But McKenna added that some of the discussions he had were
“good, meaningful conversations” that were polite and
informative for each party.

“We’re just here to get people talking, to get ideas
flowing, and have other people understand us as well as us
understanding them a bit,” he said.

The first affirmative action bake sale at UCLA was held by Bruin
Republicans in February 2003 and received a great deal of media
coverage, as well as criticism from students and major political
figures, including Chairman of the California Democratic Party Art
Torres.

Since the first bake sale, the event motif has been used at
several college campuses across the country, with varying degrees
of reaction from students and school administrations.

Many students who were involved in the rally, including
third-year political science student Ashley Tucker, approached the
bake sale and engaged in discussion with the organizers.

“It’s making the issue simpler than it is, (which
is) more my problem with (the bake sale),” Tucker said in the
presence of the bake-sale organizers, adding that she believes many
misconstrue affirmative action as race-based quotas for
admissions.

She and several cohorts argued with bake-sale organizers, and
both sides spoke loudly and sternly at one another.

Just a few tables down on Bruin Walk, Kyle Kleckner, a
third-year political science student and issues director for Bruin
Democrats, said, as a result of overuse, the bake sale had lost
novelty.

“Now it’s just become tired and offensive,” he
said. “Trying to boil down the issue of affirmative action so
simply, in such a way as to charge different races different prices
for baked goods, has really a taint to it.”

“It’s not something that I think a lot of students
appreciate, and it’s not something that I think adds to the
real debate regarding affirmative action at all,” he
added.

During the rally, speakers made small references to the bake
sale, but for the most part, stuck to stating support for
affirmative action and trying to spread the word about their
cause.

By 1 p.m., the bake sale raised about $15 to donate to an
organization called Asian Americans Against Affirmative Action, but
in the end, there were no cookies or cupcakes on the ground.

“Ironically, I think (the bake sale is) a good thing, …
because it does bring up discussion and we need to discuss it even
more, especially with the decline in minority students,”
Reese said before snapping a few more pictures. “At the same
time, I also view the bake sale as basically a slap in the face.
… I think they did it more in spite of (the affirmative action
rally) instead of trying to inform the public.”

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