After tumultuous ups and downs, conservative author and pundit Ben Shapiro is once again confirmed to speak at UC Berkeley this September. Unfortunately for the UC Berkeley College Republicans, hosting the high profile conservative is a financial and logistical nightmare.
According to The Daily Californian, the Berkeley’s College Republicans (BCR), have reluctantly agreed to pay $15,738 in order compensate for “basic security costs.”
UC Berkeley, the home of the free speech movement, has done and about-face, becoming one of the main campus embroiled in the free speech debate surrounding higher education. In the recent past, UC Berkeley has done its best to prevent conservative speakers from appearing on its campus, including Milo Yiannopoulos, Ann Coulter and Shapiro.
The Young America’s Foundation, in collaboration with BCR, invited the Daily Wire editor-in-chief to speak last July.
These lofty security costs come as no shock at all. Berkeley is said to have dedicated to paying for “the rental and staffing costs.”
Berkeley spokesperson Dan Mogulof spoke to The Daily Cal in regards to how the costs are determined:
“The formula (for security costs) is based on neutral criteria and is applied in a completely consistent fashion without regard for the identity of the student organization or the speaker.”
Mogulof also stated that the fee required for security are estimated by the UC Police Department, not UC Berkeley as some may misconceive. According to Mogulof, they derive their evaluations in accordance to “the safety and wellbeing” of not only Berkeley students but also residents in the vicinity of campus.
Naweed Tahmas, the BCR Executive Vice President, has announced that all 1,984 seats at UC Berkeley’s Zellerbach Hall have been reserved for the Shapiro event, putting it at maximum capacity.
Tahmas stated in an email, directed to the campus, that the Berkeley College Republicans are “disappointed the university would charge our student organization such a high security fee.”
Nevertheless, the students have committed to moving on with the planned event in order to advocate for, as they state, “diversity of thought” at their university.
Sadly, free speech is not free. At UC Berkeley it costs nearly sixteen grand.