UC Berkeley’s long-awaited speech featuring prominent, conservative speaker Ben Shapiro is set for this week. As a precaution for the event, which is expected to attract an immense amount of adversity from students on campus, the university has decided to increase its security measures, once again.
Last Thursday, UC Berkeley’s Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Dr. Armand Paul Alivisatos sent an email to the entire campus regarding provisions that are being organized for Shapiro’s event. It specifically noted the presence of law enforcement for the speech.
The UC Police Department (UCPD) is said to be planning “a closed perimeter around Zellerbach Hall and surrounding buildings.” The email also states that, starting at 4:00 p.m., Sept. 14th, any buildings near Zellerbach Hall will be inaccessible.
Buildings in the vicinity include the Alumni House, César E. Chávez Student Center, Eshleman Hall, Martin Luther King Jr. Student Union, and Sproul Hall.
The police formation will commence in the morning, and by 5:30 p.m., the UCPD will exclude any individual who does not possess a ticket for the speech. In other words, they will not be permitted entry through the perimeter.
Individuals planning to attend the event will need to present a photo ID at the access points alongside the perimeter.
Berkeley students on campus should expect to see a copious amount of law enforcement personnel the day of Shapiro’s speech. “An increased and highly visible police presence will be on campus on Sept 14,” Dr. Alivisatos states in his email.
Preceding the speech, UCPD will issue a list of restricted items students may not bring to the event. According to the email, wearing masks, as well as “carrying weapons of any sort,” are both prohibited.
The email points out that parking will be shut down the entire day at four different locations.
Dr. Alivisatos also addresses the emotional hardships students may face as a result of Shapiro’s presence on campus and has provided counseling services for students and employees who feel impacted by the speech.
“We are deeply concerned about the impact some speakers may have on individuals’ sense of safety and belonging. No one should be made to feel threatened or harassed simply because of who they are or for what they believe,” Dr. Alivisatos lamented in the email.
Shapiro has enticed an enormous amount of support from students on campus, but inversely, much vitriol. Dr. Alivisatos urges students in the campus wide email to strive for all individuals’ rights to articulate one’s ideals and opinions “without fear.”
“Our commitment to free speech, as well as to the law, mandates that the students who invited Shapiro be able to host their event for those who wish to hear him speak,” Dr. Alivisatos states.
“Some may wish to attend the event and hear the speaker to form their own views. Others may wish to stay away. Some may wish to protest. All activities can be done peacefully and with respect.”
It is only a matter of time before the Berkeley community shows whether or not it agrees with the provost’s words and gives Shapiro and his audience the respect they are entitled to.
Shapiro is scheduled to speak this upcoming Thursday, September 14th, from 7-9 p.m.