On Friday, UC-Berkeley administrators announced that they would waive the fee on a room for conservative commentator Ben Shapiro to speak on campus after initially cancelling his scheduled speech in September. However, it would be for a much smaller room than was previously booked and agreed to.
Dan Mogulof, spokesman of UC-Berkeley, said on Thursday that all venues that could accommodate 500 people and were free of charge were already booked on Sept. 14th. Both Berkeley College Republicans and the Young America’s Foundation were confused by this news.
“Young America’s Foundation (YAF) and the Berkeley College Republicans (BCR) are perplexed by last Friday’s statement from the University of California, Berkeley,” a statement from YAF on Monday morning read. “It was only after national outcry over Berkeley’s third instance of blocking a YAF-organized lecture that administrators magically found a venue.”
Before UC-Berkeley administrators canceled Shapiro’s scheduled talk because there were no venues available, but then said they could accommodate the speaker at a smaller venue.
“It appears that the public outcry—from students at Berkeley and concerned citizens around the country—over Berkeley’s pattern of suppressing conservative speakers and events was enough to make Berkeley administrators magically find a venue they had previously claimed did not exist,” YAF spokesman Spencer Brown told Red Alert Politics. “It’s about time for Berkeley to give free speech a chance and fulfill their constitutional obligation to their students.”
YAF filed a lawsuit in April against UC-Berkeley for suppression of free speech after the school shut down scheduled events from YAF-sponsored speakers Ann Coulter and David Horowitz. Brown would not “draw any conclusions” on whether the lawsuit had anything to do with administrators budging on Shapiro, but he said that the suit would continue to move forward.
Given that YAF learned of UC-Berkeley’s intentions to waive the room fee for a much smaller venue through a Washington Post report, Brown could not say whether administrators have offered to provide security for the event.
“We haven’t heard anything from Berkeley regarding security arrangements, but perhaps we’ll learn about their plans in the Washington Post.”