UC-Berkley’s battle over free speech has taken a step in the right direction after the school’s Chancellor Carol Christ reiterated the campus’s commitment to free speech and expression.
According to The Daily Californian, Christ sent a campus-wide email on Wednesday confirming that both conservative provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos and commentator Ben Shapiro have been invited to speak by student groups on campus in September.
“Berkeley, as you know, is the home of the Free Speech Movement, where students on the right and students on the left united to fight for the right to advocate political views on campus,” Christ said. “Particularly now, it is critical that the Berkeley community come together once again to protect this right. It is who we are.”
On multiple occasions, Christ dubbed the upcoming academic year “free speech year.” She also added in her email plans to hold several events where people who have “sharply divergent points of view” engage in moderated debates, indicating that it’s part of campus’s mission and democracy.
Since Donald Trump was elected president, groups like Antifa have appeared and attempted to intimidate conservatives and Trump supporters through violence and rioting. In addition to Yiannopoulos, Ann Coulter’s speech was canceled in April due to security concerns. Yiannopoulos’ speech in February was canceled hours before the event was set to take place because Antifa had compromised his safety. He vowed to return this coming academic year.
“The university has the responsibility to provide safety and security for its community and guests, and we will invest the necessary resources to achieve that goal,” Christ continued in her email.
After Shapiro was initially booked, UC-Berkeley appeared to have initially canceled his speech before relegating him to a smaller room that couldn’t fit 500 attendees. The school then charged the College Republicans over $15,000 to cover the cost of security.
Despite these events, Christ is looking to turn over a new leaf and demands more from students and faculty to show self-restraint.
“If you choose to protest, do so peacefully. That is your right, and we will defend it with vigor. We will not tolerate violence, and we will hold anyone accountable who engages in it,” Christ said. “Call toxic speech out for what it is, don’t shout it down, for in shouting it down, you collude in the narrative that universities are not open to all speech. Respond to hate speech with more speech.”