The University of Washington College Republicans (UWCR) hosted their “Affirmative Action Bake Sale” on UW campus today to protest the passage of I-1000, a repeal of anti-affirmative action laws. Their booth was dwarfed by the large crowd of counter protesters who showed up to denounce the event.
UWCR called I-1000 “racist.” To make their point, they hosted a bake sale where the price of the sweets was based on race and gender.
The American flag canopy, store-bought cookies (the rumor is that they were from Costco), and menu promoting prices—“Asian: $1.50, White $1.00, African American $0.50, Hispanic $0.50, Native American Free”—drew the ire of the UW community.
"This kind of display is harassment," Michele Andrasik, an assistant professor in the UW School of Global Health, said. "How can you put that Native Americans are free? And that African American lives are worth 50 cents? That is so demeaning and degrading and it makes people feel like they don’t belong here."
The crowd yelled at UWCR things like: “The people who agree with you are white power supporters, what does that say?”
“I’m mad, that’s why I’m here,” Abigael Mbaluka, a third-year UW student, said. “I’m a first generation college student. I am an immigrant. What it means to me to have affirmative action is to be able to go to school. When you threaten my ability to go to school I have to come here to fight it.”
Emily Myers, a UW PhD candidate running for city council in District 4, was at the bake sale to show solidarity with the students of color and organizations who organized against UWCR's event, she said.
UW, who supplied additional security for the event, issued a statement saying that UWCR had a right to present their views.
“I think it demonstrates a lack of leadership from our administration,” Myers said. “I don’t believe that this is a free speech issue, I believe this is a public health issue. For an institution that centers and wants to promote diversity on campus, this goes absolutely against those values.”
Steffan Carter, a custodian at Harborview Medical Center and a veteran, spoke to the crowd, saying he believed he was only able to get his job through affirmative action.
"I truly believe in First Amendment rights, for everybody to be able to discuss and exercise their rights," Carter said, "but this is inappropriate. This is blatant, blatant, blatant, blatant racism when you take a sign like this and you put prices on it and you’re valuing what people are."
UWPD filed in as things got heated. One person was led away in handcuffs after reportedly swiping a tray of the alleged-Costco cookies off the table.
Aside from some scuffles (like when a protester stole a MAGA hat guy's phone and was swarmed by four police officers), the event was mostly peaceful and evolved into opposing sides having conversations with each other while the crowd listened in.
The original version of this post attributed Stuart Reges as saying "I don't see racism [on campus]" it has been corrected to amend the quote. Reges actually said, "I don't see rampant racism." We regret the error.