In mid-September, conservative commentator Ben Shapiro entered the lion’s den and gave a long-awaited speech at the politically bifurcated campus of UC Berkeley. Leading up to the event, logistics seemed ever-changing — event day, time, location, and even who was paying for what.
As the dust settled, however, it seems that the University of California system will be stuck with a large part of the bill. It’s reported that UC has committed to paying for half of the security fees that resulted from Shapiro’s speech at Berkeley.
Janet Napolitano, President of the UC System, decided to pay for half of the security costs “because of the extraordinary situation that Berkeley finds itself in,” as reported by UC spokesperson Dianne Klein. Klein also stated that the UC system is inclined to take on the costs of subsequent events that will take place at UC Berkeley.
The UC system has pledged to pay for roughly $300,000, which will take an enormous burden off of the approximately $600,000 bill the Berkeley campus is responsible for paying with respect to security fees.
Klein added that the University of California’s decision to aid UC Berkeley with its monetary predicament as a result of Shapiro’s speech is not a response based on UC policy.
“These are special responses to special circumstances that, unfortunately, UC must deal with,” Klein expressed via email. “The university must ensure free speech and the safety of its students, staff and visitors.”
Law enforcement officials from Alameda County Sheriff’s Office, Berkeley Police Department, California Highway Patrol, as well as the University of California Police Department (UCPD) all contributed to security for this contentious event.
UC Berkeley even went out of its way to shut down six buildings in order for UCPD to set up a security perimeter out of precaution for Shapiro’s speech.
Klein called the expense “sky high security costs,” in her email.
UC Berkeley’s highly anticipated “Free Speech Week” was shortened to a one-day event, but reportedly still cost hundreds of thousands of dollars despite its cancellation. The university was also stuck with the hefty bill.