Discussions about the wage gap between men and women’s earnings have ignited on Slippery Rock’s campus following a bake sale put on by the College Republicans last Tuesday. The event was a twist on usual equal pay bake sales, where men and women are charged different prices based on statistics that show that a wage gap exists between men and women. At the College Republicans’ event, everyone was charged the same price, one dollar, regardless of gender, race or anything else.
The president of the College Republicans, Brian McLaughlin, said that the purpose of the event was simply to try and inform SRU students on the College Republicans’ stance on the wage gap issue.
“We had females pay one dollar, we had men pay one dollar,” McLaughlin said. “Because equal pay, we already have it.”
McLaughlin, a sophomore political science major, explained that whatever wage gap exists can be explained by men working more hours, on average, per week and men going into higher paying job fields. McLaughlin also referenced the 1963 Equal Pay Act, which made it illegal to pay men and women differently for the same job.
The College Republicans chose to hold the bake sale on Nov. 7th instead of on National Equal Pay Day (April 10 in 2018) because, as McLaughlin explained, “every day is equal payday because we already have it.”
Not everyone saw this bake sale as just an expression of opinion by the College Republicans. Last semester on April 20 (Equal Pay Day in 2017) the Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance (FMLA) at SRU also held an Equal Pay Day Bake Sale. This was at least the third year FMLA had done this event and at their bake sale white men were charged one dollar, white women were charged 80 cents, men of color were charged 75 cents and women of color were charged 65 cents.
McLaughlin said that he attended FMLA’s bake sale in the spring, but that the College Republican’s bake sale was in no way a response to FMLA’s event.
“The only thing I did [at FMLA’s bake sale] was, I came up and said ‘hey, you know that it is actually illegal [to pay men and women differently].’ We had a little bit of a discussion, respectfully, I bought some of their cookies and I left,” McLaughlin said. “We just wanted to question the liberal narrative on a liberal campus and see what the response was.”
Victoria Davis, a senior English literary, film, and culture studies and gender/diversity studies dual major, was the president of FMLA last school year and helped to coordinate and put on their bake sale. Davis saw the College Republicans’ bake sale as a “blatant” rip off of FMLA’s event.
“[The College Republicans] are essentially copying another group’s event and co-opting it and mocking it,” Davis said. “You can do your own event on it, you don’t have to copy another group’s event to mock them.”
“The reason we did it was, leftist leaning groups on campus control the propaganda machine so we wanted to question their narrative,” McLaughlin said. “I feel that a lot of people feel the way that we, as conservative, feel. It’s just that we’re not the loudest voice on campus and we don’t control the propaganda machine.”
Davis said that FMLA always works hard to properly research and put on the event to raise awareness and promote equality and so it hurts to see someone mock it.
“That was an event that we work really hard to put on every year, and an event that means a lot to us,” Davis said. “Every year we have people telling us that we’re stupid and that we’re liars and that we have an agenda and that we’re crazy liberals and that, most recently, we’re snowflakes.”
Davis also claimed that the College Republicans took pictures of the FMLA bake sale in the spring and threatened to send them to the SRU president Cheryl Norton claiming discrimination. McLaughlin denied that he took a picture or that he knew who Dr. Norton was, but the picture of the FMLA bakes sale and a description claiming discrimination were posted to the @SRUGOP Twitter account on April 20, 2017, and comments to the post tagging Fox News show hosts Sean Hannity and Tucker Carlson were also posted (all pictured above).
In an email, the current president of FMLA, Erin Dempsey, gave a statement similar to Davis’s.
I think that the bake sale held by the College Republicans was absolutely a response to our bake sale and a response to similar bake sales held nationally,” Dempsey said. “I thought it was unfortunate to ignore a reality that affects so many Americans and make light of real economic inequalities. While the Equal Pay Act is a very real piece of legislation, it doesn’t mean that it is being followed or that it is an effective piece of legislation.”
Dempsey, a senior history major, also said that FMLA plans to hold another Equal Pay Day Bake Sale next semester.
Bake sales like the one that FMLA holds every year serve as an illustration to the different ways that different groups of people are paid and we will not stop holding them just because they make some people uncomfortable,” Dempsey said. “FMLA’s Equal Pay Day Bake Sale strives to raise awareness about the issue in order to help close the gap.”
*Disclaimer* Victoria Davis is the managing editor and copy/web editor for The Rocket. She was not involved in the editorial process of this story.