GREENSBORO -- The UNCG students who turned out Monday for a bake sale sponsored by the university's College Republicans were not all that interested in buying a cookie or a brownie.
They were looking for an argument, which was not for sale but was clearly on the menu.
About 15 minutes after the bake sale began, a few students protesting the event chanted, "Hey hey! Ho ho! Racism has got to go!" Then UNCG junior Kristen Robinson walked over to the table the College Republicans had set up outside UNCG's main dining hall.
"We'd like to ask you guys to defend what you're doing here," said Robinson, a member of the school's International Socialist Organization chapter.
"You want a debate now? Absolutely," said Travis Billingsley, a senior and chairman of UNCG's College Republicans.
For two hours several members of the College Republicans and Winston-Salem Alderman Vernon Robinson, a Republican candidate for the open 5th U.S. Congressional District seat, debated race and affirmative action with anyone who wanted to argue.
The bake sale was put on by UNCG's College Republicans to kick off Morals Week, a week of events to make students aware of conservative issues that the group says are ignored in favor of more liberal speakers and events that permeate campus.
The week's first event was an affirmative action bake sale, something that conservative students have done at other campuses across the country. These bake sales charge different prices based on a buyer's sex, race or ethnic background. At the UNCG event, Oreo cookies and homemade brownies were $1 for white men down to 15 cents for black women.
The sliding price scale is meant to both symbolize and satirize affirmative action policies that, organizers said, give minority students a nod over whites.
The issue is still a fresh one on college campuses. In June, the U.S. Supreme Court gave a victory to affirmative action supporters when it ruled that universities may still consider the race of its applicants. UNCG does not consider the race of its applicants. The more competitive UNC-Chapel Hill does, something that the College Republicans and other affirmative action opponents call unfair because they say white students are bumped for less-qualified minority students.
Similar events elsewhere have drawn student protests, and a bake sale last fall at the University of Washington turned into a food fight. At some colleges, administrators have shut down the bake sales.
Three UNCG officials observed the bake sale from nearby, and a UNCG police car parked briefly on a road overlooking the dining hall. But no one from the university's administrative ranks moved to shut down the event, and most UNCG students heading into the dining hall for lunch ignored it.
But for the students who stuck around, there was plenty of things to chew on.
Kristen Robinson, the UNCG junior, was nearly nose-to-nose with Billingsley and later Vernon Robinson, the congressional candidate.
"We're saying discrimination exists," Billingsley said. "We're saying it not only happens with black students and Latino students. It also happens with white students."
"That's absolutely false," Kristen Robinson said.
As the debates raged, a UNCG graduate student who identified himself as Joseph handed out free Oreos and said no American, regardless of race, is denied a college education because there are so many opportunities out there.
"There's not a shortage of cookies in the country!" he yelled as he waved a package of slightly crumbled cookies. "There's not an educational shortage, you lying people!"
Later, Billingsley stood across the bake sale table from Reggie Smith, a sophomore who argued that affirmative action is needed to make up for historical discrimination.
"Do you have the same access to books?" asked David Jaynes, a freshman and College Republican member.
"Fifty years ago we didn't," replied Smith, who is black.
"We're talking about the present," said Jaynes, who is white.
Near the end of the bake sale, Billingsley said the College Republicans' event probably did not change any minds.
"I think people are taking one side or the other," he said. "That's what college is all about."
"That's absolutely false," Kristen Robinson said.
Another ignorant college boob who doesn't know anything but what her liberal teachers tell her. If she doesn't think discrimination against whites exists then she hasn't met today's California Highway Patrol hiring squads. They've actually told people I know (off the record of course) that white men need not apply, that the test taking and the physical fitness tests are merely for show to demonstrate that everyone got the chance to apply.
But the main point here is, how can she see affirmative action in front of her face every day and still think white discrimination is 'absolutely false'? To support affirmative action is to support discrimination against non-minorities.
So much for free speech on our university campuses!
And I'm sure that if anyone asked Robinson to defend being an International Socialist, s/he would scream bloody murder to the adminstration and declare an Official Grievance.
Proof positive that racism in America today is perceived and assumed, but not real. Look at the progress we've actually made in civil rights: here a black STUDENT at a PUBLIC University is complaining for lack of the educational opportunity that he already has! And he's permitted to freely exercise his 1st Amendment rights to do so.
He's also allowed to be wrong, of course. Fifty years ago, he might have been tortured to death in Guildford County for doing that very thing. America has changed.