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Friday, November 14, 2003

Here is the article that has many in an uproar...I would love for Dr. Baker to speak with this young minded student!

Bake Sale Reignites Controversy
by Nicole Schroeder, DSJ Staff Reporter

What started out as a bake sale now has the College community up in arms in a new debate on the ever-current issue of cultural diversity on campus. The controversy stems from the new student organization, the Sons of Liberty, and their anti-affirmative action bake sale that occurred last Saturday and sold cookies and brownies to students at different prices based on race. The issue has moved far beyond affirmative action, however, and is causing students to question how comfortable the College is for minority students.

“Absolutely the College cannot allow discriminatory practices to occur on this campus, period. And won’t,” Vice President of Student Affairs W. Samuel Sadler said, calling the action an assault on a community that prides itself on its openness and diversity.

“I am shocked and appalled at the callous and insensitive actions of the ‘Sons of Liberty,’” Student Assembly President Brian Cannon said in a statement. His sentiments echoed an SA Senate resolution passed Wednesday night condemning the action.

The Sons of Liberty are a new libertarian student organization, unaffiliated with any national organization, whose goal is to promote the ideas of the libertarian party and to focus on returning the government exclusively to its Constitutional roots.

“I’m opposed to affirmative action as are basically all Libertarians,” William Coggin, freshman and co-founder of Sons of Liberty, said, explaining that they find it discriminatory. The bake sale was an attempt to illustrate that discrimination.

“We had different prices based on your race,” Coggin said, “and it went progressively down for Asians, Blacks, Hispanics.”

The bake sale went on in the University Center lobby until about 3 p.m. when Administration officials showed up and asked the Sons of Liberty to sell all goods at a uniform price for everyone. Rather than give in, Coggin decided to leave, aware that their actions were in violation of College policy.

“You could call our policies discriminative, but the whole point was to show how affirmative action itself was racist,” Coggin said. “The point of the stand was obvious.”

Sadler said that the action was in blatant violation of Student Handbook section which states, “Each member of the College community has a right in his/her dealings with the institutions, and with members of the College community in the performance of their official duties, to be free from discriminatory treatment with regard to race, creed, gender, religion, national origin, or political belief.”

“I guess by the technical, legal definition we did discriminate,” Coggin said.

For now the exact consequences of their actions are to be determined, but they are scheduled to meet with Mark Constantine of Student Activities on Monday. The Sons of Liberty defend their action citing the first amendment provision of free speech, and Sophomore and co-founder Pat Reilly, in particular, was surprised by the outcome of the bake sale.

“I thought it was such a simple thing like a cookie, I didn’t think anyone would be offended by the price of a cookie,” Reilly said. “The point of the bake sale was just to raise awareness. It was not to offend anybody.”

Junior Colin Mubukwa, a minority student, got a very different impression that the Sons of Liberty were saying:

“You have to defend your right to be here and you have to prove to me that you had to work as hard as I did,” he said.

Overall, Coggin and Reilly felt that they were successful in raising awareness about affirmative action and their view that it is unfair and should be eliminated. According to Coggin, their booth received plenty of smiles and thumbs up from passers-by. At the same time, it sparked a debate that would be followed by a meeting on Tuesday that dozens of people attended to discuss affirmative action.

“That was excellent. There were a lot of good points made on both sides,” said Reilly. Coggin added that a lot of people, particularly minority students, showed up to oppose them.

Mukubwa attended the meeting, but felt differently, saying that the Sons of Liberty were unable to answer the request for a definition of affirmative action.

“The fact that they didn’t have any substance behind what they did was more offensive than the actual [bake sale],” Mukubwa said.

Mukubwa is currently concerned and disenchanted with the College and its relationship with minority students, so much so that he is hesitant to host minority prospective students this weekend.

“We can’t go out there with a good conscience and recruit students to come,” he said.

This worries the administration and many other students, who are concerned about the College’s ambiance as well as its national reputation.

“Do minority students feel welcome at the College?” Cannon said. “So far minority students have felt that this is a direct attack.” He emphasized the need for the entire campus community to stand with minority students to show the world that the College is not a racist institution.

Coggin expressed that people need not be concerned about the College’s reputation, stating that Sons of Liberty did not have the College’s endorsement to engage in their bake sale, and therefore their actions would not reflect on the College. While his colleague Reilly stated that he did not anticipate diversity at the College to be impeded by the repercussions of the bake sale, Coggin had a different view. He said that he came to the College with the express purpose to learn and study International Relations, adding that if he had wanted to learn about different cultures he could take classes about them.

“As to actual diversity I think it may have some value to some people more than others, but in terms of my personal interest… it isn’t at the top of my list,” Coggin said. “It should be an optional preference.”

The sentiments of the administration and the other students including the SA Senate and Cannon could be summed up by Mubukwa:

“Different perspectives… is what people can build on to discover new things, new ideas.”


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