In an effort to make students aware of their views on Proposition 54, the College Republicans staged an Affirmative Action Bake Sale, Sept. 25, that resulted in the sale being shut down after passerbys critical of the sale alerted the Dean of Students.
The group sold doughnuts at different prices according to the ethnicity of the buyer. White males were charged $1 for a doughnut, while asian females were only charged 75 cents. There were also quotas set in place that allowed more doughnuts to be sold to Asians and whites per hour than to blacks or Hispanics. If passed, Prop 54 would ban all ethnicity and race-related statistical information, which would in turn almost completely abolish affirmative action.
According to Chris Modzeleski, executive director of the College Republicans, the purpose behind the bake sale was for the College Republicans to show their view on the absurdity of classifying people by race and giving them exclusive allowances and requiring less performance of minorities.
This demonstration was a tactic to challenge affirmative action programs and support Proposition 54. MEChA, the Chicano student group that opposes Prop 54, viewed the bake sale as extremely offensive and the menu as a blatant sign of public discrimination.
‘The Chicano and Latino community is enraged that the College Republicans think this a legitimate way of getting their point across. Their advertisements are not only degrading to minority communities, but discriminatory as well,’ said Adeli Duron, co-chair of MEChA.
Intense arguments broke when members of MEChA noticed the bake sale. Modzeleski said one student even ripped the menu and walked off with it. The sign was later brought back and taped together amid further controversy. Duron, co-chair of MEChA says someone did deface the menu, she states that person was not a member of MEChA.
‘It was not a Mechista. There is this constant problem with confusion. It is always assumed that when a Latino is upset about these discriminatory acts that they are a Mechista. People need to understand that other Chicanos and Latinos are aware and it is not always our constituency,’ Duron said.
Matt Korn, a member of the College Republicans, felt they were making a legitimate point about affirmative action that was not aimed at provocation.
‘They thought we were racists and were attacking people. They just didn’t understand what we were doing. Plus, most of them didn’t even bother to ask why we were having this bake sale,’ Korn said.
When outraged students searched for a higher authority amid the debate, they headed to Sally Peterson, dean of students to ask for her assistance. Peterson could not be reached by press time.
‘When they clearly tried to reassure us that this was not discrimination we went to higher authorities,’ Duron said. ‘The Dean of Students [Sally Peterson], explained to them this was discrimination and had UCI policy manuals brought to them.
While UCI policy states that campus organizations cannot discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin or sex, Korn believes UCI violated the College Republicans’ First Amendment rights and felt there were better ways to handle the situation than to take down the bake sale menu.
‘Instead of telling us to take down the menu, they could have added security to our table. This demonstration has been done at other campuses including UC Berkeley and UC Santa Barbara, and they all had security,’ Modzeleski said.
Modzeleski said UCI is the first campus where this kind of bake sale demonstration was stopped by university officials.
‘All other campuses that have had these type of affirmative action bake sales were allowed to continue, and did have extra security placed at their booths. UCI is the first campus to state school policy and shut down the demonstration,’ Korn said.
This is the second year in a row the College Republicans have staged the sale. Last year, there were no disagreements with the way they portrayed affirmative action.
‘They were told to take down their signs and they proceeded to do so, but it was already 2 p.m. anyway. They fought it for a long time by saying that they wanted their attorney present and that it is clearly not illegal under state legislation,’ Duron said.
‘Any form of discrimination is wrong. That was the whole idea behind the bake sale. But, I don’t think people took the time to understand that,’ Modzeleski said.