As controversy regarding admissions policies at the University of Michigan lingers among the student community, staff members of the Michigan Review, an independent student-run journal at Michigan, decided to take a new approach to enlighten their peers on what they believe to be an unfair preference in admissions by hosting an “Affirmative Action Bake Sale” last week.
Michigan senior and Michigan Review Editor in Chief James Justin Wilson said the bake sale’s purpose was to offer a tangible example of affirmative action at the University of Michigan.
Celso Cardenas, president of the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor chapter of Lambda Theta Phi, a chartered Latino fraternity, said the actions of the Michigan review, which he says are generally right-leaning, rarely accumulate support.
“As far as the Michigan review goes on this campus, it’s not taken that seriously. It’s an extremely satirical newspaper that no one takes seriously,” Cardenas said.
Currently, a point system is used when deciding whether to admit an individual to the university. The university awards 20 out of the possible 150 points to underrepresented minority students.
At the bake sale, bagels and muffins were sold at different prices to different students solely on the basis of race. Non-minority students such as whites, Asians and Middle Easterners were charged $1 for each baked good, while students in a minority that is underrepresented at the university were offered a discounted price of 80 cents.
These admissions policies will be challenged in the U.S. Supreme Court April 1, when three past Michigan applicants, who were rejected on what they believe to be the basis of race, challenge the constitutionality of affirmative action.
Wilson said the goals of the bake sale were met and the student population left the sale better educated regarding the matter. He also emphasized that current Michigan students have never felt the bite of affirmative action.
“You got in, you beat the system,” Wilson said.
The bake sale elicited a strong student response, which is what many Review staff members were hoping for. Many students criticized the sale claiming that it didn’t mirror the admissions system.
“Sometimes you have to simplify a concept to make it known,” Wilson said.
For four years Wilson has been practicing anti-affirmative action activism and has never seen people talk about anything regarding affirmative action as much as students did on the day of the back sale as well as the days following it.
“There are definitely people very angry at us,” Wilson said. “The sale forced people to think,” Wilson said. “The combination of student and media reaction was what we were looking for.”
Cardenas, however, maintained the bake sale and the Review’s attempts to rekindle the affirmative action debate on the Michigan campus went largely unnoticed among the nearly 40,000 strong student body.
“As far as the bake sale went … I don’t think most people were aware of it.