Few customers, lots of talk at Illini Republicans' bake sale

Few customers, lots of talk at Illini Republicans' bake sale

URBANA — While their "affirmative-action bake sale" drew a large crowd to their table on the quad Tuesday, the Illini Republicans weren't selling a whole lot of cookies.

"We've sold a few," said member Jakub Balicki, a UI freshman.

The group caused a stir last week when it announced plans for a bake sale — with a twist. Prices would be set based on race and ethnicity — "in much the same manner as our school manipulates admission requirements," the group said.

On Tuesday, a poster board informed passers-by that cookies cost $2 for Asians, $1.75 for whites, $1.50 for Hispanics/Latinos, $1.25 for blacks, $1.50 for "others" and minus-$0.25 for women.

"Above prices are suggested for discussion purposes," it read. "Ask for details."

"The point of our bake sale is to bring the issue of affirmative action into the light of the student population because we believe that school admissions should be based off a merit-based system," Balicki said. "If there's an African-American student and a white student who come from the same poor neighborhood, through affirmative action, the African-American student would have an advantage because they're seen as a more disadvantaged racial class compared to other races.

"If those two students apply to the same university at the same exact merits, they should be admitted for their merits and not just for the color of their skin."

As expected, the event sparked counter-bake sales in the same area.

The Chicano unity organization MEChA (Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Azlan) put on a "solidarity bake sale," in which items went for $1 apiece — no matter one's skin color or gender.

"We're out here to prove we're not quotas or tokens," said UI sophomore Juan Luna.

Luna and fellow MEChA member Jocelyn Ramirez said the proceeds they collected from Tuesday's sale would go to the C-U Immigration Forum.

"The most important thing we can do as an organization is to promote our own causes like helping C-U Immigration and using those funds to help them out," Ramirez said. "That's one of the causes we support as an organization."

Ramirez said Tuesday's bake sale led to a lot of discussion between the various student organizations participating, though many were left frustrated with the dialogue between the groups and the Illini Republicans.

"I feel like they have the outcome they wanted by having people come by and ask questions," Ramirez said, "but when someone tries to ask them questions, they weren't answering, so I'm not sure how productive it really was.

"'What was your upbringing?' 'What were some of your personal experiences?' Just to get to know them. It came off pretty rude for them to ignore some of those basic questions."

UI sophomore Earnest Lucious, a native of Chicago, was able to have a short conversation with members of the Illini Republicans.

"I felt it was important to combat this view," Lucious said. "They're probably not going to understand it because they built these beliefs over their entire lives, so a 10-minute conversation isn't going to change that."

"I simply came here to block their revenue because they're not going to listen to me anyway."

It was a mostly civil day, though at one point a student tried to confiscate the Republicans' baked goods before his efforts were thwarted by others.

Prior to the bake sale, Dementro Powell, the director of the Office of Registered Organizations, released a statement acknowledging that many students, faculty, staff and community members had taken offense to the nature of the Illini Republicans' sale.

Powell went on to note that the Illini Republicans followed standard procedure and received approval to hold the event on campus.

"The university does not withhold approval for these events based on the proposed purpose, topic or message," Powell wrote.

Staff members from Student Affairs met with the students as part of the process and told them that if the event involved discriminatory pricing based on race or ethnicity it would be a violation of UI policy and would be investigated by the Office of Student Conflict Resolution.

They were also told their pricing practices might violate the Illinois Human Rights Act and could result in a state investigation.

Tuesday's event led to a half-dozen other sales by various organizations, all saying they did so to promote inclusion.

Crescendo was as busy as any student group on the quad, selling cookies, brownies, cinnamon rolls and pies.

"We ran out of pumpkin bread, almost out of cinnamon rolls, ran out of banana bread, ran out of a pie earlier, but we got some more donated," said Crescendo president Deborah Waters, a UI sophomore.

Crescendo was accepting cash payments, as well as electronic payments from apps like Venmo. The group said proceeds will benefit its scholarship fund, which helps underrepresented students in performing arts on campus.

"We want to show that every student here is not just meeting a quota, but they're also qualified candidates, and we've exceeded admissions standards," Waters said.

"I actually think it's a good thing to have these kinds of conversations and for people to be vocal about those opinions because people tend to steer away from conversations related to social justice, and they're really important to have."

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CallSaul wrote on March 15, 2017 at 8:03 am

Today's Republican party --- the party of Trump, Bannon, the 'alt-right' and David Duke and other assorted white nationalists.

White ethnonationalists stirring up racial animosity and trouble for fun, profit and attention.

Republicans and rightwingers whine about being called racists and bigots...?

They wonder why this happens...?

No local Republican party officials have anything to say about this? They don't condemn it?

Then by their silence and inaction they condone and support it.

This was done in the name of all Republcans who remain silent about it.

Today's Republicans --- the party not just of Trump but of overt, loud and proud ethnonationalists and white nationalists.

At least it's all out in the open now...

EdRyan wrote on March 15, 2017 at 10:03 am

If the College Republicans intended to provoke the desired response from the University they achieved that goal.

"Staff members from Student Affairs met with the students as part of the process and told them that if the event involved discriminatory pricing based on race or ethnicity it would be a violation of UI policy and would be investigated by the Office of Student Conflict Resolution.

They were also told their pricing practices might violate the Illinois Human Rights Act and could result in a state investigation."

Inclusion is right, but failing to recognize that many lower and middle income white citizens feel they're being cut out by affirmative action efforts is a mistake. 

CallSaul wrote on March 15, 2017 at 10:03 am

These rightwing Republican activists didn't do this to start a nuanced discussion on the exact nature of current admission policies.

They did this to stir up white nationalism and racial resentment.

The fact is that racial and ethnic minorities are severely underrepresented at major universities.

It's also a fact that leaders across industires and in the military broadly support support including race and ethnicity as *one of the factors* when making admission decisions.

How exactly such policies should be administered each year and at each school should certainly be under constant discussion and review.

But again, these College Republicans are not trying to start a rational, mutually respectful dialog, as noted by their reaction to people who tried talking to them as described in the article.

They want to foment and capitalize on white resentment and nationalism.

Are you willing to denounce them for deliberately provoking racial and ethnic animosity and in so doing making rational discussion of the issue that much harder to achieve...?

Don Mega wrote on March 15, 2017 at 11:03 am

These young Republicans aren't smart enough to engage in adult conversation without first insulting large numbers of people...  But it's the "Others" that don't deserve to be enrolled?


You're Privilge is showing.

illinirazorback wrote on March 15, 2017 at 1:03 pm

I'm sure the bake sale and the conversations it provoked were a whole lot more intelligent than the comments in this section.

BruckJr wrote on March 15, 2017 at 3:03 pm

This would seem to be an opportune time for the News Gazette and Daily Illini to research and report upon the admission policies of the university.  If the university is admitting students with the same criteria, regardless of race, they should be anxious to show the students in question.

CallSaul wrote on March 15, 2017 at 4:03 pm

'...they should be anxious to show the students in question.'

What exactly do you mean by that...?

wykhb wrote on March 19, 2017 at 10:03 pm

Oh My, CallSaul first in line to show tolerance of other viewpoints as usual.   Since you carried on with so many obviously well-researched points earlier, why don't you just infer what is meant, since it all turns out the same in your mind anyway.    
The country will move on without you, at least you have your forum to spew your hatred, I have to admit it's strangely entertaining and humorous to observe your illness manifest itself in public. 

CallSaul wrote on March 20, 2017 at 9:03 am

In addition to the devestating 'I'm rubber but you're glue / I know you are but what am I' rhetorical tactics, rightwing Republicans are such masters of projection.

You certainly have the mentality and intellectual capacity, not to mention vocabulary, to fit right in with the rwnj trumpkin xenophobes and white nationalists in the Illinois College Republicans...

SaintClarence27 wrote on March 21, 2017 at 9:03 am

I have no problem with being intolerant towards bigotry and hatred. Those things are not illegal, but I can certainly call them out and have no problem doing so.

PSL wrote on March 19, 2017 at 11:03 pm

At least there's one thing we can all agree on: the old racist mascot is gone and never coming back.

CallSaul wrote on March 20, 2017 at 12:03 pm


That racist mascot with the silly dancing frat boy acrobatic routine and flailing gyrations is gone and it's never coming back.

That's true no matter how many old men shake their fists and yell at clouds about it...

Mr Dreamy wrote on March 21, 2017 at 4:03 pm

"We'll back you to stand

'Gainst the best in the land"


Really? Those are in the lyrics? You mean the Illini are not the best in the land? 

The Illini are losers?


Well, the real Illini were losers, too because they are all dead and gone, as is their culture since it was absorbed, or forgotten, except in the minds of old white guys who dream of a past that never existed.

Dead. Gone. Forgotten but for an amateur dance by some college kid.