Affirmative action demonstration met with counterprotest at UC Berkeley

In a protest against a bill that would allow affirmative action in California, Republicans from University of California, Berkeley hosted a “Diversity Bake Sale” on Tuesday that priced cupcakes and cookies based on the race of the purchaser.

Sparking controversy and several opposing protests from groups on campus, the baked goods were sold for $2 to white students, $1.50 to Asian Americans, $1.00 to Latinos and down to 25 cents for Native American students — women were given an automatic 25-cent discount.

Though the group did not enforce the pricing policies, many at Berkeley expressed anger at what they perceived was a “racist” attempt at satire.

UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert Birgeneau said in a message Monday that he opposed the use of race in the bake sale, but encouraged discussion on affirmative action on campus.

“[It is] a vivid lesson that issues of race, ethnicity and gender are far from resolved,” Birgeneau wrote.

In a counterprotest, hundreds of Berkeley students dressed in black laid down on Sproul Plaza — the heart of the campus —for about an hour on Tuesday. Many held signs saying, “UC us now?”

Former UC Regent Ward Connerly, however, was at the bake sale to support the Republican protest against affirmative action — a position he is well known for.

“The point is, the people of California have said we don’t want to see race and color in admissions,” Connerly told the San Francisco Chronicle.

The bill currently at Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk would overturn a 1996 ban on affirmative action that prohibited the use of race, ethnicity and gender in college admissions and public hiring and contracting.