Martin Shkreli provokes reaction on campus meme page

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Members of campus meme page “UC Berkeley Memes for Edgy Teens” spent their Monday evenings tuning in to a live stream with former pharmaceutical executive Martin Shkreli after the self-proclaimed “pharma bro” and internet troll gained attention by posting in the group Monday.

Shkreli, who is known for instituting a 5,000 percent price hike of Daraprim —  a drug used to treat HIV and AIDS patients —  first posted on the group page at approximately 11:00 a.m. Monday. After Shkreli became active in the group, he hosted a live stream where students requested that he come to UC Berkeley.

“I will come to Berkeley,” Shkreli said during the live stream. “Absolutely, as long as nobody tries to kill me, I’ll come.”

Group moderator Kojin Glick learned on Sunday about 10:37 p.m. that Shkreli had joined the group before he reportedly left and was re-added Monday, UC Berkeley Memes for Edgy Teens moderator Rachel Trujillo said. The group name was changed to “RIP IN PIECE MARTIN SHRKELI(1983-2017)” before he was re-added,  prompting the groups’ creators to change the name to “UC Shkreli Memes for Edgy Teens.”

After Shkreli posted his phone number to the group’s discussion, he began taking calls from UC Berkeley students, who questioned him on topics ranging from the definition of “EECS” to hip-hop group Wu-Tang Clan’s most recent album, of which Shkreli owns the only known copy.

When asked for comment about his involvement with the group, Shkreli declined.

“HELL NO BISH,” Shkreli said in a Facebook message to The Daily Californian.

Trujillo called Shkreli about 200 times before successfully connecting with him about 5:38 p.m. She said she was surprised that Shkreli spoke politely to her during their conversation, noting that his interactions with other female callers had been derogatory.

“This whole interaction with him is quite ironic because the majority of people dislike him, but it was an interesting interaction,” Trujillo said. “I saw he would just post something and it would get 2,000 likes in a short amount of time. It definitely shows that these memes can have an impact.”

Besides speaking with students over the phone, Shkreli also brought out his guitar, but was unresponsive to commenters’ requests that he play a rendition of the Oasis hit “Wonderwall.”

During the live stream, Shkreli suggested that he would “have a Wu-Tang party” at UC Berkeley, where he would presumably drop the hip-hop group’s album.

“I’d love to come to Berkeley,”  Shkreli said. “You sent me such a meme welcome. It’d be an honor.”

Cassandra Vogel is the university news editor. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @cass_vogxz.

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