A 'Bake Sale' Protest at Aquinas College (Bucknell, Are You Listening?)
February 2, 2012
A perennial topic of consternation on college campuses is the "affirmative action bake sale" protest that groups opposed to affirmative action hold with some regularity on college campuses. If you don't recall or haven't heard of these protests, they take the form of bake sales where people of different ethnicities are charged different suggested amounts for baked goods, with whites and Asians paying the most and African-Americans and Native Americans paying the least. The different prices are meant to signify the advantage in college admissions that opponents of affirmative action argue such policies give to certain ethnicities.
Probably the most (in)famous of these bake sales happened at Bucknell University, where administrators shut down an affirmative action bake sale protest by misapplying university policies, telling students they could reapply for a permit to hold a controversial event, later denying them a permit on the erroneous basis that such a bake sale would be illegal discrimination, and then telling the students that affirmative action couldn't even be debated on the "public property of the campus." It was truly a low point for free speech on America's campuses, and helped earn Bucknell FIRE's dreaded "Red Alert" status.
Adam wrote last October that Bucknell was looking "dumber and dumber" for this transparently political crusade against those protesting affirmative action, considering that "bake sale" style protests on the subject of affirmative action had recently transpired without legal problems at Berkeley and Fordham, as well as a similar "pay equity bake sale" at the University of Georgia, in which students protested the "gender wage gap" between men and women by charging women less then men for the same baked goods. Now, FIRE has just learned that Aquinas College in Michigan is also holding a pay equity bake sale, under the auspices of the Jane Hibbard Idema Women's Studies Center, which appears to be part of Aquinas College itself. As organizer Nathan Lundy says, "Having a bake sale to demonstrate this gap is a fun, but still an educating way to bring light to this situation." Hear that, Bucknell?
It's long past time for Bucknell to recognize that bake sales are a legitimate form of protest, admit that its motivation in censoring the protest was political rather than principled, and affirm that it will stop censoring its own students.