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UC-Berkeley can’t find ‘available campus venue’ for September Ben Shapiro event

Conservative pundit Ben Shapiro won’t be getting his preferred venue at the University of California-Berkeley for his planned Sept. 14 event.

Young America’s Foundation, which is supporting the lecture, said in an email blast Wednesday night that the university told the Berkeley College Republicans it couldn’t “identify an available campus venue” for the event for that date.

It can only accommodate venue requests “when events are held at a time and location that allow for the provision of any required security measures,” according to the letter by Dean of Students Joseph Greenwell and Millicent Morris Cheney, the student organization coordinator.

YAF said:

Berkeley’s inability to find a lecture hall more than two months in advance is laughable. The university’s email is full of double-speak such as the statement “Ben Shapiro is welcome on our campus, and we are committed to supporting his, and your, rights to free speech” …

An endless stream of liberal speakers continue to be granted opportunities to speak, unobstructed by time, place, or manner restrictions while conservatives are continually treated unequally, and repeatedly relegated to the margins of campus activity.

An administration spokesperson gave The College Fix the full message from Greenwell and Cheney:

We hope you are doing well and enjoying the summer. Please know that despite extensive efforts, we have been unable to identify an available campus venue that meets your stated criteria: a space that is available on Thursday, 9/14/17 at 7pm and capable of accommodating an audience of 500 people. As you may know, there are but a handful of venues of that size on campus and for that reason they tend to get booked up long in advance.

Although it is not common practice for the Dean of Students office or the LEAD Center to work on securing space reservations on behalf of a Registered Student Organization (RSO), our interest in supporting your ability to host speakers of your choice has led us to make additional efforts on your behalf. However, given that a venue meeting all of your criteria has not yet been determined, we hope and expect that no one has signed, or will sign a contract committing your organization to a specific time, date, and location before a venue is identified and agreed to, as per standing campus policy and practice.

Before we describe the other venue and timing options we have been able to identify, we must emphasize that before we can move to finalize the event’s date, time, and location, there must be a UCPD security assessment, as per long-standing policy that applies to every RSO interested in hosting an event. We plan on scheduling, without delay, a meeting with UCPD to initiate the review and gather needed information. UCPD Special Events Officers have the following dates and times available for this meeting:

Thursday, 7/20/17, 8:00-9:00 am; 11:00 am – 1:30 pm
Monday, 7/24/17, 8:00 am – 3:00 pm
Tuesday, 7/25/17, 8:00 am – 3:00 pm
Thursday, 7/27/17, 8:00 am – 3:00 pm

We remain cognizant of your understandable and clearly stated desire for appropriate security at BCR events. As you know, the security assessment can lead our law enforcement professionals to offer important security-related recommendations, including guidance for the timing and location of an event.

Please let me know if there are any other BCR members we should be including in the planning process, what your availability is for an on-campus or phone meeting within the above dates/times, and if Mr. Shapiro has a representative that would be available to be included in that meeting.

Because Mr. Shapiro is welcome on our campus, and we are committed to supporting his, and your, rights to free speech, we very much hope that the BCR and Mr. Shapiro can be flexible when it comes to the timing and location criteria you initially established. In that context we have tentatively reserved a few venues on BCR’s behalf that can be discussed as part of the event’s security review. These venues include smaller spaces on the date requested and larger venues on other dates in September. Please note that some of these potential venues require rental fees, but your ASUC funds and/or other campus grants might be available to go toward those costs. We must also caution that there exists the possibility that the security review will result in recommendations from UCPD that would preclude the use of some of these venues and/or might rule out certain hours for the event. We want to stress that the outcome of these UCPD security reviews are not based on a speaker’s perspective, or those of the hosting organization, but reflect the police department’s professional assessment of the likelihood that unlawful efforts could disrupt or shut down the event.

Lastly, we should mention that there will be a new interim event policy that was recently shared with RSOs, and this event, like all others planned for the fall, will need to comply with the terms of the new event policy. Like the existing policy, it will support the right and ability of organizations to host speakers of their choosing without regard for the speakers’ perspectives or positions. In addition, for this policy to be effective, legal, and consistent with our values it will in the future, as previous policies have in the past, be applied in a uniform, consistent fashion without regard for the identity of eligible outside users or student organizations, or the speakers they may wish to host. Nothing is going to change on that front. The draft policy and timeline can be reviewed on this web page, and we would welcome your feedback, that can be conveyed by using this Google Form.

Please be assured we will continue to do everything in our power to support BCR in hosting a safe and successful event. That commitment can be fulfilled only when events are held at a time and location that allow for the provision of any required security measures.

YAF and the Berkeley College Republicans are suing the university for allegedly discriminating against its events with conservative speakers by subjecting them to higher requirements than others who more closely resemble mainstream campus politics.

MORE: Shapiro expects Berkeley won’t hide behind heckler’s veto of Antifa

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