California Republican National Committeemember Shawn Steel visited one of UC Berkeley’s political science classes on Wednesday to discuss longstanding world issues, such as anti-Semitism.
The course “Elections 2016” — a one-unit class taught by lecturer Alan Ross — is designed to give students an opportunity to engage in open dialogue about politics and current events. Topics covered this semester include the death penalty and the legalization of marijuana, with Ross bringing in speakers who have varying perspectives to speak to the class. Notable guests include Robert Reich and Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom.
Steel is a regular guest lecturer for Ross’ class, having visited multiple times over the years.
“Shawn does a good job representing his party,” Ross said. “It’s hard to get Republicans to come to Berkeley. … He loves to provoke and get a response out of the kids. There’s an honest dialogue, which I just don’t see anywhere else on campus.”
During his hour-long presentation, Steel spoke in depth about recurring anti-Semitism on college campuses — citing incidents at UCLA, Vassar College and Fort Lewis College. Additionally, Steel pointed out the issue of anti-Semitism at UC Berkeley by referencing posters put up around campus that said “Attention Non-Jews: Pay up and Shut up!” in response to the Palestine DeCal.
“My issue is (that) I’m mostly concerned about human oppression,” Steel said. “When we see the rise of anti-Semitism in Europe and now in America and now at American universities, now here at Berkeley, I’m getting very concerned about that.”
Students were invited to join Steel for a casual Q&A after the lecture at Top Dog, where Steel has personal ties to the owners. Despite the majority of students in the class being Democratic, according to Ross, Steel’s message was well-received among attendees.
“I would say that Shawn Steel’s presentation was very informative and pertinent, even though I do not identify myself as a Republican,” said first-year student Karthik Mouli.
In an interview after the presentation, Steel said he continues to guest lecture in the class because he enjoys visiting UC Berkeley.
“When Ross invited me the first time, I thought I would be stoned, they would attack the stage, you know, the usual stuff,” Steel said. “But they were the nicest bunch of students I’ve ever met.”
A long-time supporter of Berkeley College Republicans, Steel stated that he encouraged more discussions and debates between different political parties on campus. When asked about the political diversity on college campuses throughout America, Steel said that there is a fundamental issue of non-diverse political ideologies among the faculty and administrators.
“There needs to be a balance so that students can make up their own minds,” Steel said. “There’s no choice (between) different political philosophies. … It’s intellectually stifling, it’s uninteresting and it’s basically boring.”
Steel urged students to consider their own futures when voting for a candidate this November, saying it was important to be “selfish” in this election.
“Who’s most likely to get them a job, so they can have a decent future?” Steel said. “That’s really what it comes down to. The key is, what kind of economic condition are we going to have?”