Cookies and Affirmative Action
Yesterday my friend who attends UC Berkeley told me that, “ish got real”. No, she wasn’t complaining about midterm exams or too much homework. She was referring to a bake sale. This isn’t your grandmother’s bake sale, well unless your grandmother set the prices of her cookies, brownies, cupcakes based on race, gender, and ethnicity.
Campus Republicans at the University of California Berkeley are hosting a controversial fundraiser that implements a sliding scale where the price of the baked goods depends on a person’s race or gender. Cookies for white men are being sold at $2.00, Asian men for $1.50, Latino men $1.00, black men for $0.75, Native American men $0.25. All women will receive $0.25 off of those set prices. The executive board is conducting this fundraiser as a statement of their disapproval of affirmative action policies in the college admissions process. Ironically, Proposition 209, which was approved by California voters in 1996 prevents public schools and employers from considering applicants’ race, ethnicity and gender. Nevertheless, UC Berkeley Republicans still feel like their counterparts from historically marginalized groups are less qualified and taking up the space of some qualified White student.
What I find problematic about this bake sale is that it doesn’t acknowledge the structure that was put in place before affirmative action that gave whites, especially white men, an advantage. As I’ve said before if people want to do away with affirmative action that’s fine. But make sure that all affirmative action is eliminated. This includes preference based on lineage, wealth, and family prestige. Countless White men and women are beneficiaries of preferential treatment in the college admissions process. For example, former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist’s oldest son Harrison was admitted to Princeton even though he was not a member of his high school’s Cum Laude Society which comprises the top 20% of the student body of St. Albans. In fact he graduated high school without honors and after joining an eating club was arrested for drunk driving. Maybe it was just a coincidence that the Frist family gave about $25 million to Princeton University.
Author, Tim Wise, discusses White privilege
Cookies aside, affirmative action is a major issue in the college admission process. It is true that some people get preferential treatment, but to be honest admissions has never been blind. If admissions were truly blind George W. Bush wouldn’t have been admitted to Yale. Truth be told, I’m glad UC Berkeley Republicans decided to go ahead with this controversial bake sale. At least now we can have an honest and frank conversation about affirmative action.