Group addresses Keyes proposal with cookies

Online Poster

Online Poster

By Jeremy Pelzer

A campus libertarian group opposed to slave reparation programs is working to appeal to students’ stomachs as well as their heads.

Students for Individual Liberty, a libertarian Registered Student Organization, held an “Alan Keyes Reparation bake sale” on the Quad side of the Illini Union Tuesday afternoon. The group sold cookies to black people for 50 cents per cookie, while white people were charged as much as $2 per cookie.

Justin Doran, sophomore in engineering and president of Students for Individual Liberty, said the bake sale was intended to educate students about U.S. Senate candidate Alan Keyes’ slave reparation plan. Keyes, the Republican candidate, has advocated exempting descendants of slaves from paying income taxes for a few years as a way to address racial economic inequalities.

“We were a little disturbed by this (proposal), so we decided to do something,” Doran said.

The group also used the bake sale to campaign for Jerry Kohn, the libertarian candidate for the U.S. Senate. Keyes and Kohn will face Democratic candidate Barack Obama in the Nov. 2 general election.

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Doran said while many people were initially offended by the race-based price rates, most were satisfied when the group explained their reasoning.

“They come up ready to rip us a new one, and then they discover that we’re being satirical,” he said.

Doran said the bake sale was inspired by other bake sales held at universities around the country protesting affirmative action. Many of those bake sales drew controversy. Last year, school officials shut down an anti-affirmative action bake sale at Southern Methodist University.

J. Brooks Moore, director of the Office of Registered Organizations, said the University knew about the bake sale beforehand and permitted the event to take place.

“Students for Individual Liberty were doing an informational promotion to educate students about a current issue with the state’s senate (campaign),” Moore said. “We would not censor their event based on content.”

Moore said another conservative group held an anti-affirmative action bake sale on campus last year. In these situations, Moore said the University works with groups to ensure that the bake sales have an educational purpose, rather than just offend people.

Ryan Ruzic, secretary of College Republicans, said he had “no problem” with the bake sale. While the bake sale was intended to foster opposition to slave reparations, Ruzic said it also made a good point about the problems with race-based affirmative action as well.

“The content of a bake sale of when you charge different prices for different races, regardless of its intent, points out a telling point about affirmative action,” Ruzic said. “We need to move towards a society that is not racially-based, but recognizing that there’s an economic disparity.”

When asked to comment on the libertarians’ attacks on Keyes’ platform, Ruzic said, “I think that Alan Keyes is an eloquent speaker, and while not all Republicans agree with all his views, I agree that he’ll be our candidate.”