University of California, Berkeley College Republicans today held what has been termed a “racist bake sale” intended to oppose efforts to take race and ethnicity into account in college admissions. The bake sale featured cupcakes priced as follows:
White/Caucasian $ 2.00
Asian/Asian American $ 1.50
Black/African American $ 0.75
Native American $ 0.25
$ 0.25 Off For All Women
The news of the Berkeley bake sale generated plenty of controversy, and demonstrations on both sides.
Affirmative Action History in California
The Berkeley bake sale takes place amid a tumultuous history of affirmative action spanning more than three decades. In 1978, the U.S. Supreme Court in Regents of the University of California v. Bakke held that the University of California, Davis Medical School could not maintain a numerical quota system for the admission of minority students, but that it could have an affirmative action effort in its admissions program, which could take race into account. In 2003, the Supreme Court in Grutter v. Bollinger again upheld a university’s (in this case the University of Michigan Law School) affirmative action admissions program. That same year, the College Republicans at Berkeley reportedly held a similar bake sale, although it does not appear to have generated as much controversy nationwide as the current bake sale.
However, in 1996, California voters passed Proposition 209, which prohibited California from “discriminat[ing] against, or grant[ing] preferential treatment to, any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in the operation of public employment, public education, or public contracting”, even though, regarding school admissions, some of the prohibited activities were permitted under the Bakke decision. Prop 209 is being challenged in federal court, and California Governor Jerry Brown recently filed a brief in that lawsuit, arguing that Prop 209 in unconstitutional because the Bakke and Grutter decisions permit some of the affirmative action programs that Prop 209 prevents.
In February of this year, California State Senator Ed Hernandez introduced Senate Bill (SB) 185, which would authorize the University of California and the California State University to consider race, gender, ethnicity, and national origin, along with other relevant factors, in undergraduate and graduate admissions.
Consequences of the Bake Sale
One aspect of the “racist bake sale” at Berkeley that has not been fully explored is whether it was unlawful, given that UC, Berkeley is a state-run school, the bake sale was admittedly discriminatory (albeit with White males discriminated against the most), and the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, as well as federal civil rights laws, generally ban state discrimination against individuals. Thus, it is conceivable that litigation or other administrative action over the Berkeley bake sale might ensue.
[Note: links not in bold were added by knotmove.com, not by the author.]
© 2011 Matthew Emmer — All Rights Reserved
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