sitting on the edge of the sandbox, biting my tongue

September 25, 2011

The Predictably Racist UC Berkeley Republicans

SB 185, a bill that will allow the University of California schools to reinstate affirmative action, is waiting for Gov. Brown’s approval.  I’m sure it has something to do with the current fiscal crisis embracing our state; otherwise our legislators wouldn’t bother to waste their time on the issue.

And so UC Berkeley Republicans are planing an affirmative action bake sale.  The idea here is to illustrate the unfairness of affirmative action (h/t DH):

A Facebook post announcing plans by a UC Berkeley Republican group to sell baked goods priced according to race, gender and ethnicity – “White/Caucasian” pastries for $2 and “Black/African American” pastries for 75 cents, for example – has drawn outrage on campus.

“I’m ashamed to know that I go to the same school with people who would say stuff like this,” responded student Skyler Hogan-Van Sickle on Facebook. “I’m really trying to figure out how someone can be this hateful.”

What I’m ashamed of is that a student enrolled in one of our top universities has no idea what hate is.  Perhaps Mr. Hogan-Van [Hammer and] Sickle never read good literature or studied history.  After all, good grades are earned by those who learn the art of being appropriately offended.
Nanette Asimov, the good journalist at SFGate, insinuated that the bake sale is somehow linked to the following incidents on UC campuses:

Berkeley’s tempest follows a series of racial and anti-Semitic incidents across UC campuses, which prompted UC officials to focus new attention on fighting hate speech among students.

In March at UCLA, a student posted a video of herself ranting about Asians. In 2010, UC San Diego students posted racial slurs and caricatures on Facebook, and used campus TV to belittle black students. Someone also hung a noose from light fixture in the library.

At UC Davis, six swastikas were found, including one carved into a Jewish student’s door, and someone defaced the gay students’ center.

At UC Merced, a video mocking efforts to create a Chicano studies program was posted on Facebook.

In 2010, UC President Mark Yudof described the incidents as “quite simply the worst acts of racism and intolerance I’ve seen on college campuses in 20 years.” He created a committee to help campuses strengthen anti-hate policies. And next year, all students and employees will be asked to take a survey about campus tensions, said UC spokesman Steve Montiel.

Funny she mentioned anti-Semitism, which, of course, is the old news on UC campuses.  For instance, this Friday Muslim students were found guilty of disrupting speech by Israeli ambassador Michael Oren.  Something tells me the students in question are not members of the local chapter of Young Republicans.  As a side note, Michael Oren is a terrific historian.

I’m not familiar with the specific incidents Ms. Asimov mentioned, but I think it’s a bit presumptuous to connect the disperse events at a university that enrolls nearly 200,000 students to a stunt to be performed by a small group on one of the campuses.  Actually, “presumptuous” is a bit of an understatement considering the threats of vandalism:

But students say the joke is anything but funny. More than 200 students responded to the event, most opposed, and some violently so. One threatened to burn the table and set the cupcakes on fire. At least four student groups sent complaints to campus administrators, and a student-only meeting was set for Friday evening to discuss it.

So SFGate is pouring gas onto the fire.
The UCB “community” seems to be easily disturbed:

At Berkeley, the Facebook posting violates no campus policy, said Gibor Basri, vice chancellor for equity and inclusion.

“The only policy it violates is the principles of community,” he said, adding that a campus-wide letter will go out Monday. “We can use this as a teaching moment.”

Well, that’s quite a passage.  While I’m relieved that the Facebook posting didn’t violate any campus policy, I am taken aback by the fact that UC Berkeley has a vice chancellor for equity and inclusion.  I no longer pay UC Berkeley alumni fees, and I will not renew my alumni membership as long as that position exists.
Affirmative action bake sale

Gibor Basri

I’m sure Gibor Basri has a PhD, but principles of community do not constitute a policy.  I’m not clear as to what kind of a teaching moment the upcoming bake sale incident represents.  Will the Berkeley “community” grow a thicker skin and learn to take a joke or will the vice chancellor for equity and inclusion use this occasion to berate a group of students who subscribe to minority opinion?
And how about this for teachable moment: getting your outrage on will get a student into Berkeley.  Knowing how to kiss up to teachers is a valuable skill, to be sure, but if a student wants to become an important thinker, it’s probably a drawback.  On the other hand, irritating the campus “community” might prove to be a valuable life experience. It gets worse.  Playing the race card can get a politician into the White House.  It can also make this politician known as President Downgrade.


  1. It’s not called Berzerkely for nothing. I haven’t spent a dollar there since the city council blamed America for the 9-11 attacks.

    Link forthcoming on Wednesday.

    Comment by Harrison — September 26, 2011 @ 3:10 pm

  2. […] few days ago I blogged about an SFGate opinion piece masquerading as a news item about the upcoming affirmative action bake sale on the Berkeley campus.  And now, SFGate is publishing an opinion piece opinion piece about the event.  The essay in […]

    Pingback by Bay Area “Community” Ganging up on Berkeley Republicans « sitting on the edge of the sandbox, biting my tongue — September 27, 2011 @ 1:59 pm

  3. […] For a deeper look at the “bake sale” and other issues on the Berzerkely campus, Edge of the Sandbox has it. […]

    Pingback by Wacky Wednesday: The UC Berkeley Republican ‘Diversity Bake Sale’ — September 28, 2011 @ 1:01 am

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