'Affirmative Action Bake Sale' draws protest on UW campus

A group of student Republicans at the University Washington hosted a bake sale Friday, advertising affirmative action pricing.

Some groups had reduced prices, while whites and Asians had higher prices. Baked goods for Native Americans were free.

“Affirmative action is an inherently racist policy that is now back after the Washington State Legislator passed I-1000,” a social media post from the group read. “We will be protesting this clearly racist change of law by hosting a bake sale that plainly shows the clear discrimination allowed by law now.”

On April 28, the Washington Legislature passed Initiative 1000, which overturns the voter-approved statewide ban on affirmative action.

That ban, which passed in 1998 with a more than 16 percent margin of victory, banned discrimination and preferential treatment based on race, sex, color, ethnicity, national origin or age. The day after Initiative was passed this year, a group filed a referendum to put it to a public vote.

The Friday bake sale drew an angry crowd and the presence of University of Washington police to try and keep things calm.

One student was removed by UW police after she knocked over cookies being sold.

University of Washington President Ana Mari Cauce sent the following statement in response to the bake sale:

“The so-called “affirmative action” bake sale the UW College Republicans are hosting today has no place in such a debate. It does not create a forum for serious discussion, but instead appears to mock not so much just a policy, but individuals who belong to racial, ethnic and gender groups that have historically been marginalized and that have often experienced very real prejudice, discrimination and oppression. Indeed, the way that the poster advertising this event juxtaposes race and price is reminiscent of a time when persons in some of these groups were literally bought and sold. Regardless of its intent, this sale humiliates and dehumanizes others. It is no surprise that so many on our campus and in our community are deeply offended by it, as am I. It is the opposite of the equitable, inclusive and welcoming climate that the vast majority of us are working hard to create and maintain.

I have written before about free speech and why we uphold it, even when it is offensive and hateful. In this case it is also important to keep in mind that the number of students involved in the sale is extremely small and certainly not representative of all UW students. They are not even representative of the state College Republican organization. It is the crudity, offensiveness and sheer outrageousness of the message that creates a megaphone that amplifies it."

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