The helicopters flying over central Berkeley today were just one sign of the media frenzy that has surrounded the announcement by Cal College Republicans that they would hold an “Increase Diversity Bakesale,” to protest a bill that permits consideration of race and economic status in university admissions.
The arrival of Ward Connerly, the former UC Regent who backed Proposition 209, which banned affirmative action in university admissions in 1996, was another sign that dozens of cameras were nearby.
Connerly jumped into the fray by selling some of the Republican student group’s selection of baked goods. Prices varied according to who bought them: $2 for a white student, $1.50 for Asian students, $1 for Latinos, 75 cents for African-Americans and 25 cents for Native Americans. Women of all races were promised a 25-cent discount.
As the Republicans set up shop at around 10:00am, a group of about 50 students at a phone bank made calls to Gov. Brown to express support for SB 185, the bill the College Republicans are mocking, according to the Daily Californian, which has been providing a blow-by-blow account of the proceedings since the student group announced it would hold the bake sale last week.
Everyone seemed to jump into the fray. John Stossel, a conservative journalist for Fox News, wrote a piece on why he supports the bake sale. The New York Times looked at the issue, as did CNN, Reuters, and numerous other media outlets.
By midday today, a crowd of affirmative action supporters , several hundred strong and dressed in black, were conducting a silent demonstration on Sproul Plaza — standing erect, fists raised, with placards that read “Don’t UC US”. At noon they all laid down on the ground.
And the media were still out in force: several TV stations, including NBC Bay Area and KCBS News, dozens of reporters, notebooks in hand, and hundreds of cameras in hand snapping pictures. And the chopper still hovered overhead.