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Democrats Riled by Race-, Gender-Biased Bake Sale By: Nicolas Taborek
Daily Bruin | Monday, February 17, 2003

An affirmative action bake sale organized by the Bruin Republicans last week has provoked impassioned responses from a top California Democrat and political student groups on campus.

The sale, held on Bruin Walk on Feb. 3, offered cookies at different prices depending on the customer's race and gender. Black, Latina and American Indian females were charged 25 cents for cookies that cost males of minority descent 50 cents. White females were charged $1, and white males and all Asian Americans were charged $2.

Students selling the cookies were assigned name tags portraying them as "Uncle Tom," "The White Oppressor" and "Self-Hating Hispanic Race Traitor."

Chairman of the California Democratic Party Art Torres voiced his disapproval in a Monday press release.

"I am deeply saddened and disheartened at the activities of the Bruin Republicans," he said.

Torres, a former California state senator, believes UCLA Republicans have been "emboldened" by the recent race-sensitive remarks by various Republican leaders, specifically citing Trent Lott's, R-Miss., comments and Congressman Howard Coble's, R-N.C., praise of internment camps for Japanese Americans during World War II.

"It is a shame that Republicans at UCLA have chosen to mimic the extreme views of their Republican leaders," Torres said.

Andrew Jones, president of the Bruin Republicans and a former Daily Bruin Viewpoint columnist, resents the chairman's association of his student group with national Republican controversies.

"This is just Torres being a bully. He doesn't know us. We have never stood behind Trent Lott," Jones said.

The intent of the sale, Jones said, was to "bring the issue (of affirmative action) down to everyday terms. We wanted to show how affirmative action is racial division, not racial reconciliation."

As for the name tags of the vendors, Jones said many people would look at a black or Latino student taking part in a Bruin Republicans anti-affirmative action sale and either think to themselves or say out loud that the student is a traitor to his race. Therefore, the Bruin Republicans decided to "turn it on its head" and use the names themselves, before passers-by had a chance.

Jones asserted his objective was to incite discourse on the issue, not to provoke anger.

"We want people to have an opinion, one way or another," he added.

Though the Bruin Democrats did not protest the event or respond to it publicly, president Kristina Meshelski, a former Daily Bruin contributor, felt the sale served to confuse students.

"They're focusing only on how it can hurt. A diverse student body is something we should strive for, and affirmative action can help," she said.

Kevin Acebo, a press aide for Torres, called the bake sale a clear example of "race-bating."

Juan Carlos-Orellana, president of the Democratic Law Students Association, responded to the event with similar indignation, referring to the bake sale as an "insulting trivialization of the serious issue of race and gender equality."

Orellana sees the effort by the Bruin Republicans as detrimental to the discussion of affirmative action.

"By reducing the complexity of this issue into dollars and cents and cookies they are working to stop discourse," he said.

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