The University of California, Berkeley has cut the attendance for Ben Shapiro’s Sept. 14 speech from 1,978 people to 1,048 people, according to the Berkeley College Republicans.
Last week, the administration notified the Berkeley CRs that following an unannounced security audit of the venue, the upper levels of the venue would not be made available to audience members.
This comes in addition to the announcement on Aug. 24 that Young Americans for Freedom (YAF) and the Berkeley College Republicans (BCR) would have to pay the Berkeley administration $15,000 in security fees so that they could ensure safety at the event.
In a joint statement released to Lone Conservative, the groups state:
“This move to limit the number of students able to hear, for once, conservative ideas comes as more than 2,500 individuals have confirmed their desire to hear Shapiro speak at Berkeley via wait list.”
“This latest attempt by UC Berkeley to prevent students from hearing Ben Shapiro at this stop of the Fred Allen Lecture Series reeks of desperation and hypocrisy.”
According to both groups, the UC Berkeley Administration “still [hasn’t] formally told College Republicans and YAF in a setting that BCR hadn’t solicited the information [about a security audit].”
In fact, the move seems to have been so secretive that “the police captain [of the UCPD] didn’t even know” this happened, Bradley Devlin, secretary of the Berkeley CRs, said.
This would not be the first time that UC Berkeley has made it difficult for a right-wing figure to give a speech by citing “security concerns.”
The school cancelled a Milo Yiannopoulos event in February after violent riots erupted on the campus. The shut down sparked outrage amongst the broader right, with even President Trump tweeting “If U.C. Berkeley does not allow free speech and practices violence on innocent people with a different point of view – NO FEDERAL FUNDS?”
If U.C. Berkeley does not allow free speech and practices violence on innocent people with a different point of view – NO FEDERAL FUNDS?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 2, 2017
Though the debate has raged in the court of public opinion for some time, the legal battle between the BCR/YAF and UC Berkeley has been ongoing since April, when the school cancelled Ann Coulter’s speech over unspecified security concerns.
YAF and BCR, with the aid of lawyer Harmeet Dhillon, promptly filed a lawsuit against the university, claiming that the opinions and speech of conservatives were being suppressed by the administration.
As a result, Berkeley has proven to be a major point of focus in the free speech argument, with the happenings there carrying a major impact in the political realm.
The full statement of the UC Berkeley College Republicans is below:
This move to limit the number of students able to hear, for once, conservative ideas comes as more than 2,500 individuals have confirmed their desire to hear Shapiro speak at Berkeley via wait list.
This latest attempt by UC Berkeley to prevent students from hearing Ben Shapiro at this stop of the Fred Allen Lecture Series reeks of desperation and hypocrisy. In brief, here are some highlights of Berkeley’s broken promises and debunked claims:
- Berkeley initially offered Zellerbach Hall as part of a belated, face-saving attempt to salvage its public image and cling to the appearance of supporting free speech in the face of a civil rights lawsuit demonstrating Berkeley’s noted failures to honor the law.
- This came after the school claimed their “extensive efforts” turned up zero available venues, and before they assessed a $15,738 “security fee” to secure a fully-filled Zellerbach Hall. This charge was not accompanied by any explanation of what the $15K+ fee provides or a guarantee that such a fee would protect students from being beaten like animals if campus police officers aren’t allowed to do their jobs.
- Now instead of releasing tickets for a capacity crowd of 1,978 they’re only allowing 1,042 seats to be used, citing a “security assessment” but not explaining why this assessment wasn’t done earlier, or why other events at Berkeley hosting prominent speakers are not subject to a security assessment leading to a reduction in capacity.
Berkeley has repeatedly blamed the conservative students in BCR for delaying the release of tickets for the rapidly-approaching lecture, yet Berkeley administrators went AWOL when YAF staff and BCR members attempted to meet to answer any outstanding questions last week. They still refuse to provide answers on ticketing logistics, and currently want to force attendees to come to the campus personally to pick up tickets rather than allowing modern means of ticketing such as online reservations and print from home tickets.
Berkeley’s press leaks, public statements, and grandstanding on a “free speech year” fall far short of believable or convincing when their hypocritical actions over the past six months are considered.”
The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.