UC Berkeley

UC Berkeley students and members of the local community casually entered local shops and restaurants Saturday morning to then begin reading the names of “black men killed by police and vigilantes.”

They also participated in various chants and songs.

Dubbed “black brunch,” the college’s Black Student Union stated the protest “targeted upscale businesses as places to ‘stop business as usual’ and highlight violence against black people in the United States.”

The Daily Californian reports:

“The small inconvenience felt while we disrupted businesses pales in comparison to the nightmarish reality of being Black in America,” the [Black Student Union] press release said.

The demonstrators gathered in front of the Berkeley Amtrak station before marching into several businesses, including Spenger’s Fresh Fish Grotto, the Apple Store and Peet’s Coffee & Tea. Once inside, speakers from the group read a list of names of black individuals killed by police, security guards and self-appointed vigilantes.

Several protesters then took the mic in the middle of a shopping center on Fourth and Delaware streets, including one UC Berkeley student, junior Blake Simons, who read a poem about his experiences with Berkeley police.

“I show my Cal Berkeley ID, and soon he lets me be free,” Simons said while reading his poem. “No ticket, no warning — it’s like he pulled me over just for fun.”

Truth Revolt notes that similar protests took place in New York City and highlights some tweets from protesters in both locations:

TR also includes some tweeted reactions to the protests.

Read the full Daily Californian and Truth Revolt articles.

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The crumbling of the Rolling Stone University of Virginia rape story isn’t the only sexual assault claim taking hits.

On Monday, “Barry the Republican” – the guy who allegedly raped Lena Dunham when they were students at Oberlin College together, had his name – sort of – cleared. And at UC Berkeley, an alleged spree of rapes has been shown to lack one of the most critical elements: victims.

With Dunham, a Breitbart investigation has essentially proven that the only Barry who was a Republican at the small Ohio campus at the time Dunham also attended did not match the description of him she gave in her book – not by a longshot.

A few days after that report came out, Dunham agreed to add a disclaimer to her book “Not That Kind of Girl” that “Barry” is not the real name of the campus conservative student who allegedly raped her, the Hollywood Reporter reports:

Dunham describes Barry in her book as the “campus’s resident conservative” who wore cowboy boots, a mustache, hosted a radio show, worked at one of the campus libraries and graduated in December 2005. The description was detailed enough to cast a pall over a former student who has had to defend himself against Dunham’s accusation that he raped her, according to Minc [Barry’s attorney]. His client not only fits Dunham’s description, but his first name is also Barry.

Minc says he has been asking for several weeks for Dunham to absolve his client, but until he set up a legal fund and threatened a lawsuit he hadn’t heard from her representatives. “Miss Dunham and Random House are starting to come around to some of our demands,” Minc said.

As for Berkeley, a detailed post at PJ Media shows how a series of six reported rapes at UC Berkeley over the last two months are unsubstantiated and uncorroborated:

Suspiciously, in most of the cases the charges were not made by victims or witnesses, but rather by third parties long after the fact. These third-party accusations were made either anonymously or by “Campus Security Authorities,” which includes campus political activist groups. In many of the cases, the actual “victims” themselves have not come forward and may not even consider themselves to have been raped. …

In not a single case have any of the charges been substantiated, nor have any suspects been indentified or arrested (aside from the one case noted above where the charge was subsequently dropped). Very few details about any of these cases have been released by the UC Police, so it could be possible that one or more of these allegations could eventually be proven true.

But in light of the other controversial rape claims recently being made at college campuses elsewhere around the country, including the University of Virginia where a traumatic gang-rape allegation first made national headlines and then collapsed under scrutiny, many are questioning whether or not this similarly spectacular rape epidemic at Berkeley could possibly be a political ploy to exaggerate rape statistics, rather than a sincere attempt to capture and punish actual rapists.

The police have released few details about these “crimes” likely because they themselves have no details, other than impossible-to-verify vague claims made by persons not present at the incidents.

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In a shocking YouTube video released Wednesday, a satirist filmmaker waves an ISIS flag on UC Berkeley’s campus shouting that America is an imperialist nation responsible for deaths across the globe.

Students barely bat an eyelash.

“ISIS is misunderstood,” yells Ami Horowitz in the video as he waves an ISIS flag on campus. “We just want our own state. … America is causing the deaths in Iraq and Syria – not ISIS, not the Islamic state.”

One man who looks like a professor tells Horowitz “good luck,” another who looks like a student gives him a fist pump. Not one student challenged him. Some gave him some weird looks, but that was the worst of it.

Then he pulled out an Israeli flag, and all hell broke loose.

“Hamas is the greatest,” shouted one onlooker. “F*ck Israel,” said another.

Several students openly disagreed with him, told him he was wrong, yelled at him, told him Israel kills kids and is responsible for genocide.

“The shocking video … unfortunately proves once and for all that there is in fact no connection between intellect and wisdom,” Horowitz wrote on YouTube.

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Today UC Berkeley will mark its third annual “Indigenous People’s Day Celebration” – the same day as the federal Columbus Day observance.

The university has for years shunned Columbus Day celebrations, and in the past the campus community has openly protested the holiday and helped take part in the city of Berkeley’s annual Indigenous Peoples Day activities.

More recently, the university has put on its own festivities to mark the occasion, and today will offer performances, lectures and other activities. The effort is a collaboration between several campus groups, including the UC Berkeley department of theater, dance and performance studies, the American Indian Graduate Student Association, and the equality and inclusion department.

But it was not a hatred for Columbus that served as the impetus for the annual campus observance.

The university observance was prompted, interestingly enough, by a controversial Native American-themed play at the campus in the spring of 2012 that some students felt offered an “inaccurate and harmful depiction of Native American culture,” The Daily Californian student newspaper reported.

That historical-fiction play, “Ishi: The Last of the Yahi,” was put on by the UC Berkeley Department of Theater, Dance and Performance Studies.

The Yahi band had lived near Gold Rush territory, and prospectors and settlers killed many, and seized their land and rivers, where they fished for salmon to survive on, according to We Are California.

“In 1871 the handful of surviving Yahi fled to the Sierra foothills, where they lived hidden in the mountain wilderness for 40 years,” the website states. “The last known member of the Yahi walked out of the hills in August 1911. He became known as ‘Ishi’ (meaning ‘man’), the ‘last of the Yahi.’ Ishi lived for five more years and died in 1916.”

Ishi has often been referred to as “the last wild Indian,” and when he stumbled out of the wilderness those decades ago he immediately became the center of attention and study.

“The play, according to the department’s website, explores the life of Ishi, the last remaining member of the Yahi tribe, and his time as an object of study at the campus Hearst Museum of Anthropology with anthropologist Alfred Kroeber beginning in 1911,” the Daily Cal reports.

Berkeleyside.com described the play like this:

It is an entertaining, although deeply disturbing, play, filled with scenes of prejudiced white men massacring Indians for a $5-a-head state bounty, gunfire, rape, murder, cannibalism, and even academic jealousy. But if you are shocked and disturbed after seeing it, (and at three Ishihours long, you see a lot) then … the artistic director of Theater Rhinoceros in San Francisco and a frequent lecturer in the theater department, will have attained his goal. He clearly wants to tell people about this unknown chapter of California history: that the slaughter of Native Americans also happened here, not just at Wounded Knee or on the Trail of Tears.

But the play was met with harsh criticism, including a review described on NativeAppropriations.com as follows:

… Ishi: The Last of the Yahi … attempts to justify the gross violences committed against Native peoples through its portrayal of Ishi as a batterer, murderer, and rapist. While arguably the production evidences some meager attempts to provide a more nuanced version of history, ultimately, the play endeavors to erase not only Ishi, but also all Native peoples, who through the production’s monolithic representation of Native Americans are conflated with the Yahi. When the play is not depicting Native peoples as extinct, it suggests that Native Americans are not “survivors” or “victims,” but instead, were asking for it: “Maybe Manifest Destiny was a two-way street.”

A petition tried to get the show cancelled, and it was signed by 393 people, but ultimately failed to shut it down, according to iPetitions.com.

The department chair of the theater, dance and performance studies quickly retreated from the play’s subject matter after the blow back.

“I don’t think we expected the reaction that we got,” he told The Daily Cal. “We consider that an oversight on our part. We should have been more sensitive and vigilant about the subject matter.”

After that, UC Berkeley’s annual “Indigenous People’s Day Celebration” was created. It’s held inside a dance studio on campus. This year it will feature a hoop dance, cultural presentation, language and story telling, and other discussions.

“Rather than Columbus Day, this is a movement to recognize indigenous people,” a grad student told The Daily Cal in 2013 about the annual tradition. “It’s about recognizing these cultures rather than the defeat of these cultures.”

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IMAGES: Internet screenshots

OPINION: On the 50th anniversary of the Free Speech Movement, its hypocrisy is exposed

November 2013: Berkeley student government unanimously passes a bill to ban the term “illegal alien” from campus discourse.

September 2013: After several Mexican-American members of the campus fraternity Delta Chi suggest hosting a quinceanera-themed party, the student government condemns the frat for “appropriating the culture” of Mexican-Americans.

December 2012: Citing their “disapproval” of the viewpoints espoused by the second largest charity in the Unites States, the Berkeley student government passes a bill to boot Salvation Army donation boxes from campus, arguing the charity’s presence on campus creates a hostile and uncomfortable environment. Berkeleyflier

September 2011: Berkeley’s student government unanimously passes a bill condemning disrespectful speech.

And on Friday, as UC Berkeley students and faculty wrapped up a week-long celebration to mark the 50th anniversary of its Free Speech Movement, the UC Berkeley College Republicans illustrated to our peers how the university has actually turned its back on the First Amendment.

To that end, club members stood in front of Sproul Hall holding a large banner that read “Free Speech [does not equal] Comfortable Speech” – and it got students’ attention, as the positive platitudes they’d heard all week about the movement were vehemently challenged.

According to the Berkeley College Republicans, the true essence of the Free Speech Movement has been lost in recent decades. The ideals of the movement have been discarded, replaced with notions such as tolerance and civility.

In the 1960s, students broke out from within the constraints of the status quo. They said the things parents and professors and peers were telling them not to. Today, and especially on the Berkeley campus, conservative students are the ones taking a stand, and yet we’re maligned and ostracized for it.

In the aftermath of the Berkeley College Republicans’ 2011 “Diversity Bake Sale,” the student government attempted to have the club defunded due to the argument that the speech the club engaged in was disrespectful and uncomfortable.

Free speech, huh?

Our display on Friday intended to bring to light the many breaches of free speech that have taken place on campus, sponsored by organizations such as the student-body government at UC Berkeley.

Alongside the banner, club members passed out fliers containing a list of incidents in which campus leaders limited various students’ right to exercise their personal liberties.

BerkeleySliderThe flier also attacked the campus for its recent movement to discontinue the exchange of academe between the UC system and Israeli universities, another example of UC Berkeley silencing any communication and discourse that may offend or upset some individuals.

There is a strange perversion of free speech taking place on this campus. It’s perfectly acceptable to occupy campus buildings and create pinatas out of the UC president’s image, but that’s only because the individuals in question fall under one school of thought. As soon as someone different comes along, and stirs the pot, they’re pointedly silenced.

Throughout the day, our club passed out hundreds of fliers and displayed our sign from the morning until late into the afternoon. Students came up and asked questions, and many seemed interested in the cause. Others were shocked to learn about the many times their campus – the birthplace of the Free Speech Movement – had overtly suppressed open dialogue.

“The people I talked to seemed to agree with the point our message was trying to get across,” said Edward Saenz, a member of the Berkeley College Republicans. “No one I talked to believed that free speech should have stipulations tied to it.”

College Fix contributor Claire Chiara is a student at UC Berkeley and president of the Berkeley College Republicans.

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IMAGES: Courtesy of Berkeley College Republicans


In the latest campus free-speech showdown, Yale’s Muslim Student Association, along with other campus groups, pressured the William F. Buckley Jr. Program to alter a speaking event featuring Islam critic Ayaan Hirsi Ali, asking to limit what she could talk about, or at the very least have a pro-Muslim speaker on hand who could offer counterpoints.

Many at Yale, including a university chaplain, stated their support for the Muslim Student Association’s request, which was ultimately denied.

Now that the mid-September event is over, and went off without a hitch, it’s time to reflect: Was that really so bad after all?

As calls for civility echo across college campuses, from Yale to UC Berkeley, students could use a little perspective.

Sometimes people say truly nasty things. But it must be asked whether being offended, uncomfortable, or disagreed with is the worst thing that could happen to a college student? Especially given that, in pursuing protection from offense, they’re undermining their own right to be offensive when the tables are inevitably turned.

Let’s take a look at just how bad it’s gotten:

It’s gotten so bad that many students – and their administrators – think it’s appropriate to “disinvite” or even shout down controversial speakers.

It’s gotten so bad that the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education saw the need to launch a campaign aiming to sue every single school with a speech code.

It’s gotten so bad that Berkeley’s student government—perhaps taking a page from their chancellor’s book—last year banned the term “illegal immigrant” from campus discourse.

It’s even gotten so bad that a full 23 percent of University of Colorado students reported that they felt “intimidated to share their ideas, opinions, and beliefs in class” because of their political philosophy.

Too many students would like to change the rules to create a kinder, gentler democracy, shutting out any idea that could lead to raised voices or hurt feelings. In the process they are destroying the freedoms that make democracy worthwhile. They’ve forgotten that a tolerant, open society isn’t something we’re simply gifted with. An open and free society has to be maintained. Sometimes, this means we’ve got to weather a little offensiveness.

Campus civility standards and free speech can’t, after all, coexist. Here’s the C. Vann Woodward Report, one of the most thoughtful defenses of free expression on campus, on the issue of civility:

We have considered the opposing argument that behavior which violates these social and ethical considerations should be made subject to formal sanctions, and the argument that such behavior entitles others to prevent speech they might regard as offensive. Our conviction that the central purpose of the university is to foster the free access of knowledge compels us to reject both of these arguments…They make the majority, or any willful minority, the arbiters of truth for all. If expression may be prevented, censored or punished, because of its content or because of the motives attributed to those who promote it, then it is no longer free.

To put it another way: every individual has a different idea of what is civil and what is not. Attempting to separate legitimate (protected) speech from unprotected speech on this basis won’t work because it requires a subjective judgment by whoever is enforcing the rule.

For example: administrators might decide that using graphic images on the quad is appropriate when dealing with issues they care about (“it speaks to the gravity of the situation!”), but wholly unnecessary (and therefore uncivil) when used to promote a perspective they find off-putting. For example, some colleges allow graphic Sex Week events while they shudder at prolife protests that use graphic images.

This is not a standard that allows for creative dialogue and the exchange of new ideas.

If students and administrators are concerned about civility, if they are concerned about solving these problems and overcoming these differences, they need to preserve a space for impassioned debate on campus. The controversial issues being debated will continue to matter, whether discussed on campus or not, and I think most would find it preferable that scholars and students take part in such debates.

If you are a university student, alumnus, or faculty member, and you would prefer that the most important issues facing our nation continue to be discussed among communities of scholars, you must take it upon yourself to advocate for free speech on campus. You can start by encouraging your classmates or students to grow a thicker skin.

College Fix contributor Alex McHugh is a recent graduate of American University.

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