UC Berkeley’s administration’s abuses against protecting free speech for conservative views have been so egregious in the past year that the Berkeley College Republicans (BCR) and Young America’s Foundation (YAF) have filed a lawsuit against the university. And since the announcement of YAF and BCR’s plans to host Ben Shapiro, UC Berkeley’s well-documented attempts to stifle free speech have only increased.
BCR and YAF’s lawsuit against UC Berkeley cites repeatedly the university’s efforts to thwart the presentation of conservative viewpoints through “discriminatory application(s) of a policy to restrict conservative speech on the UC Berkeley campus, in violation of YAF and BCR’s constitutional rights to free speech, due process, and equal protection under the law.”
Once the lawsuit became public knowledge, YAF stated:
UC Berkeley administrators should base any policies protecting students’ constitutional rights on the Constitution itself. Berkeley’s response laughably alleges that its actions — welcoming prominent liberals, including Maria Echaveste, a top aide to President Bill Clinton and Vicente Fox Quesada the former president of Mexico, while simultaneously denying equal access for students attempting to host David Horowitz and Ann Coulter — are "viewpoint neutral."
UC Berkeley’s actions have not altered in the slightest while planning the Ben Shapiro event, made public on July 11, even in the midst of a lawsuit in which their position is indeed “laughable.”
Shapiro originally said regarding the event, “I look forward to speaking to students of all viewpoints at Berkeley. I expect that the administration will not hide behind the heckler's veto of despicable groups like Antifa to prevent this event from moving forward. The home of the free speech movement has an obligation to protect free speech.”
Yet a mere 48 hours after the announcement, the People's Republic of Berkeley was claiming Ben Shapiro is controversial and a radical who inflames right-wing agitators. This was a pitiful attempt by the Left to shame the University for letting Shapiro speak on campus.
Disingenuously, UC Berkeley’s administration informed the Berkeley College Republicans and YAF a week later of their “commitment to supporting his (Shapiro’s), and your, rights to free speech.” This flowery rhetoric came with a caveat: the University claimed it was unable to find a venue to accommodate Ben Shapiro.
Clearly, these two positions are in conflict, and the hypocrisy of the university had to be exposed. In the Daily Wire I wrote:
Because administrators have failed to offer next best alternatives at any point in our correspondence, I am extremely skeptical these rooms are “unavailable.” This leads me to one conclusion: UC Berkeley is up to its old tricks of Leftist censorship, but this time in a slimy, hypocritical fashion.
Magically, when BCR and YAF applied more pressure, the university found a large hall that could be used for the event. Zellerbach Hall, the “new” 50-year-old building venue the university had miraculously found to be available, would come with a massive security fee of over $15,000.
YAF and BCR are not easily deterred. They are persistent and unwavering in their attempts to host the most successful event possible. Despite the fact that this taxation on free speech may ultimately be challenged in court, YAF paid the fee.
Still, the manipulation didn't end. On August 31, YAF representative Amy Lutz and I attempted to hash out logistics with Cal Performances. Their response time to requests and logistical questions necessitated three separate visits to their office in the span of a few hours. However, the representatives were unable to see me on lunch break, and then suddenly disappeared for the day. It was clear the office was more focused on stonewalling the event rather than sharing our sense of urgency in order to put on a successful event.
”The university has an obligation to protect the first amendment rights of all its students. This repeated stonewalling is a tactic used frequently to stifle free speech on campus by the university,” I wrote after the meeting. “After attending a meeting with Rob and Gina (Cal Performance Administrators) on Monday, I was optimistic that we could continue with an open line of communication. The events of today, however, have made me deeply disappointed in the university's lack of urgency and responsibility.”
On September 1, UCPD allegedly performed a security assessment unbeknownst to BCR and YAF (on Tuesday September 5, the officer said to have performed the assessment claimed he had no knowledge of it whatsoever). The administration concurred with UCPD’s assessment, which stated Zellerbach Hall’s top two levels would not be available for admission. The administration cited "security concerns” in the aftermath of Charlottesville and the latest Berkeley riots, and cut the tickets available for admission from almost 2,000 to 1,042. Berkeley’s administration has failed to send any evidence or documentation of this assessment and its consequences.
Even though there will be intense security checks and a long list of banned items, the Vice Chancellor also said, “anything thrown from the balcony has potential to seriously harm patrons below and confrontations on the balcony could result in significant injury should someone stumble, trip, or get pushed over the balcony railing.”
The series of unfortunate, illegal, events continues in the home of free speech.