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Editorial: ‘Affirmative action bake sale’ was in bad taste

The affirmative action bake sale” hosted Friday on Bruin Walk by Young Americans for Liberty was a crude and offensive stunt. It did nothing but damage the campus conversation on the topic as well as the reputation of the organization.

The group certainly had the right to hold the event, misguided as it was. But as a self-proclaimed voice of political leadership on campus, Young Americans for Liberty should have had the foresight and taste not to engage in attention-seeking sensationalism.

The group priced its goods at the bake sale differently for customers based on race, presenting customers with prices ranging from 50 cents for Native Americans to $2.50 for Asian-Americans. The goal, according to group members, was to showcase that affirmative action is inherently racist.

The result was a grossly oversimplified look at the topic of race in higher education admissions and insensitive treatment of a subject that personally affects many students on this campus.

Young Americans for Liberty would have observers believe that under affirmative action students of minority backgrounds would have what amounts to a “free ticket,” regardless of their other qualifications. Affirmative action allows for the consideration of race as an admissions factor, among many others – it is not a free pass.

After three days of discussion with administrators who urged the student group to find other ways to voice its opposition to affirmative action, Young Americans for Liberty decided to carry out the bake sale in order to make a statement in a conversation that it felt had ignored its voice.

But instead of engaging with other student groups in collaborative programming or voicing their concerns at meetings of the Undergraduate Students Association Council to communicate their point of view, the students who hosted this event merely elected to take the path of most resistance, intent on kicking up dust.

Indeed, the history of affirmative action bake sales and the outrage they engender indicates that Young Americans for Liberty was far more interested in creating a scene than engaging in a conversation about race-conscious admissions. Similar bake sales at UC Berkeley and the University of Texas at Austin have been divisive and the students who held this event had every reason to believe it would be equally controversial this time around.

Students seeking to advocate for or against affirmative action must approach the conversation in good faith, rather than intentionally drumming up controversy to turn heads.

That criteria applies to both sides of the conversation.

For example, speakers at a recent rally in protest of Proposition 209 hosted by the Afrikan Student Union and sponsored by several USAC offices, went so far as to unfairly characterize former chancellor Albert Carnesale as a racist. No matter the group or its ideological position, misinformation and shock value are unacceptable means for campus organizations to prove a point.

Such stunts create reactions rather than results. They impede cooperation in the search for a remedy to the decline of diversity at UCLA, and fly in the face of the understanding that, as Carnesale once said, “a diverse student body will, indeed ‘lift the level of civilization of all of us’.”

Moving forward, student groups of all stripes must make an effort to participate in honest, clear-minded and progressive activism that will not embitter the campus conversation on important and controversial issues.

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  • RJ

    Hah this is piece of garbage. Talk about biased press coverage

    • MK

      It’s an editorial idiot.

  • Guest

    “Affirmative action allows for the consideration of race as an admissions factor, among many others – it is not a free pass.”

    So, how is this statement not racist?

    • jaimeson

      Racism is defined as 1) the belief that race accounts for differences in human character or ability, and that a particular race is superior to others, or 2) general discrimination or prejudice based on race.

      Affirmative action, which allows for race (along with many other factors) to be considered in admissions doesn’t assume race-based differences in character or ability, or racial superiority, nor does it discriminate on a racial basis. All it does is recognize the reality of racial inequalities in our society. This allows for a more complete picture of a potential applicant by acknowledging the incredibly important role that race plays in determining access to higher education. Recognizing race is not racist.

      If I understand your comment correctly, you might think that being “colorblind” is the solution- a solution which assumes that racism no longer exists. This is the root of our disagreement. Racism still exists at both the individual and systemic levels, and simply ignoring it won’t make it go away.

      for more:

      • Bunchy Carter

        Exactly. Race still shapes opportunity in this country, and acting like it doesn’t only perpetuates inequality.

        • minority

          Falsely assuming that all members of a race face the same statistical socioeconomic inequality is demeaning.

        • Guest

          so, do

        • then, stop

          so, do away with unequal treatment! unequal treatment based on sex or race only perpetuates this.

        • GoodbyeUSA

          “Thou shalt pity thyself.” Progressive Bible.

      • asdfsdf

        Asians experience just as much racism as any other group. They also have less political representation and less positions in high government jobs. However, they are discriminated against in college admissions. It makes absolutely no sense. Affirmative action perpetuates racism!

      • Anon

        Life is inherently unfair. Should we also open up spots at top universities for those born less intelligent or with less intrinsic motivation? Those folks seem to be very underrepresented as well.

        Should we be more willing to give someone a spot because their parents never pushed them to do well in school? Should a student be accepted because they tried very hard but still got mediocre grades? Should someone who is poor be accepted over someone who is wealthy? Should a minority student be accepted over a similar student with similar qualifications?

        Where do you draw the line here?

        Admissions should be based purely on merit. It is not fair to those minorities who deserve a spot, nor is it fair to qualified students whose spot was given to a less qualified minority applicant.

  • vetri

    Well bake sale is the best they can do to compare racist-Affirmative-Action policies.

    It is ridiculous to give a seat to rich black guy over poor white guy just for the sake of diversity.

    Classify people based on wealth alone..

    • A

      That’s not how affirmative action actually works, just saying. If we were to follow your analogy it would be comparing a poor Black person with all A’s and a rich white person with all A’s. Learn how it works BEFORE criticizing it.

      • Guest

        You then should understand the term “affirmative action.” Socio-economic status is NOT considered in affirmative action, only RACE is taken account.

        Statistically speaking, affirmative action only helps the middle-class minorities, not the poor ones.

        • jaimeson

          Race is not the only factor taken into account. When Prop 209 passed and ended affirmative action, it prohibited “race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin” from being considered in admissions. Socio-economic status is already taken into account- that’s why we fill out the FAFSA and have CalGrants.

          And statistically speaking, affirmative action helps white women more than anyone else. (

          • then, stop

            and as a white woman, i can say that is horribly unfair. all this comes down to is treating people differently and it is unfair. how would a bi-racial person be treated? they have to choose which race to identify with and then they’ll be treated accordingly? AA is completely racist, especially in a world where people of multiple races are becoming more and more common.

          • GoodbyeUSA

            Prop 209 is being subverted.

          • Mifty Popularis

            That’s another lie. Affirmative action hurts white women along with white men when affirmative action benefits black/latino men and women over white/asian ones.

            And there have been numerous studies showing that UCLA (and other schools) are surreptitiously and illegally STILL taking race into account under the guise of “holistic admissions” policies.

      • Mifty Popularis

        That’s a lie. Studies have shown there are SAT differences of over 300 points and GPA differences of a full point (3.2 versus 4.2). between admitted those hurt by affirmative action (whites/asians) and the beneficiaries (blacks/hispanics). If you were comparing equal students, then it would be arbitrary who you picked and you would not need race-based admissions.

  • CS

    Of course it was a “grossly oversimplified look at the topic of race in higher education…” because the purpose was to take the idea behind race-based affirmative action to it’s logical extreme.

    It seems that when someone questions the fairness and effectiveness of race-based AA, the rebuttals usually don’t deal with race, but instead deal with underprivileged individuals.

    By simplifying the idea to a bake sale, they are making a very clear argument against race-based AA, not against the holistic admissions process which allows socio-economic affirmative action. Thus this could have been an earnest attempt at a discussion on race-based AA without getting side-tracked by related issues.

    • Guest

      There is no socio-economic affirmative action. Affirmative action entirely race-based, and holistic review considers one’s socio-economic status. Affirmative action is not the same as holistic review, and they are two distinct terms.

      People should learn the difference before arguing for one side.

      • CS

        You’re right I shouldn’t have used the term “socio-economic AA.”

        All I was saying was that they simplified it to a race-based bake sale so that the conversation could actually be about race, instead of economic class. The editorial seemed to say the bake sale was 100% a stunt, when it seems to me they might have been actually trying to start an earnest conversation about using race in admissions.

  • no more racial assumptions

    As a racial minority, I would be ashamed if my race allowed me to take a spot in my college class from somebody else who worked harder for college, but was white.

    • then, stop

      strange that no one is replying to you telling you how wonderful AA is, huh? you show how it hurts at the individual level and that is what this policy comes down to – the unequal treatment of individuals based on race or sex by the government.

  • Guest

    Affirmative action is a disgrace. It does nothing but perpetuate racism and steal college admissions spots from hard working, deserving, students. Taking into consideration being the first in the family to attend college, family’s income level, etc are much fairer metrics.

  • Kendi Kim

    AA does 2 significant things, in my view, that I think you-all should think about: 1) It makes it harder for the majority, and 2) turns the minority into “slave-pedagogues” for the smaller group of elite majority.

    #1 means, that less room for the majority (for example, white). That is, for example, less available seats at a University — which means, ultimately, the privileged class (for example whites) will have to work harder to be recognized for their merit. This does mean higher standards for that majority group, and perhaps a greater class difference within the same “racial group”.

    #2 means, that the minority students who take up those seats, are in essence, a kind of “teaching tool”, or “tutors”, to the elites of the majority who meet the higher standards. How are they “teaching tools”? Well, diversity is best experienced first-hand for one thing, which means that a diverse group of people need to populate the landscape. And secondly, for the “self” to exist, there must also exist beside it a contrasting “other”; without the other, there can be no definite boundary of the “self”. So, diversity is a teaching tool, and THE diversity (ie, the diverse body of students) are themselves, unbeknownst “tutors” to that elite majority.

    So the conclusion is this: before you get all riled up about what you think AA is supposed to be about, or for whom it was designed, or what you think it’s supposed to do for you, consider that just maybe AA is designed originally to benefit the elite few, drawn from the group of the powerful majority. And by BENEFIT, I truly mean the benefit of having the insightful understanding and the richness of experience, that comes with being exposed to diverse perspectives. It is a part of education, that is more than just learning your ABC’s.

    On the other hand, what are the “slave-pedagogues” getting out of it? Some kind of education, I suppose, but what kind? From what I hear, it’s not about learning anything important, like how to make good decisions in life and how to develop the mind’s eye to see and appreciate the richness of this world – but rather, it seems to be about making a little bit of money. Of course, that would be just the sort of thing that slaves would care about.

    Okay, so now that you know what I think as I read your comments, please respond accordingly.

  • Mifty Popularis

    Putting on a bake sale exposing the hard truths about affirmative action is in bad taste, but the actual practice of choosing unprepared black or hispanic students on the basis of their skin color (who are much more likely to fail out and be worse off in the end according to a large amount of research) over far more well-qualified white and asian students isn’t in bad taste? Give it to liberals to hide behind terms like “damaging the conversation” when they can’t force people not to speak truths they don’t like.