YAF claims campus blocked Ben Shapiro appearance

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The Young America’s Foundation claims that campus officials have been unable to identify a venue for the campus appearance of Ben Shapiro announced for Sep. 14, according to a press release issued today titled “Berkeley Blocks Ben Shapiro.”

The press release alleges that through an email exchange between campus Student Affairs administrators and BCR members the former “denied” BCR’s request for a room.

“It is important to note that the university did not in fact identify any other dates, times, or venues for Mr. Shapiro’s speaking engagement at UC Berkeley,” said BCR External Vice President Naweed Tahmas in an emailed statement.

BCR informed Student Affairs on July 10 that noted conservative commentator Ben Shapiro was invited to speak for a crowd of 500 on campus on September 14 at 7 p.m. Student Affairs replied that a room meeting those requirements was not available for that date, but that other dates and rooms were.

“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,” read one email from campus student affairs to a BCR executive.

Student Affairs also stated that, though it is not common practice for the Dean of Students office or the LEAD Center to work on securing space reservations for Student Organizations, “our interest in supporting your ability to host speakers of your choice has led us to make additional efforts on your behalf.”

Student Affairs emphasized that prior to finalizing a date, time and place for the event a UCPD security assessment must be conducted, “as per long-standing policy that applies to every RSO interested in hosting an event.”

Tahmas addressed a new version of this policy in his statement, alleging that the policy is still in the “preliminary draft stage,” and that relevant stakeholders have not been looped into it’s creation. “This draft policy does not set an uniform curfew for all speakers and thus allows the university to arbitrarily set time restrictions,” Tahmas said in an email.

The correspondence between Student Affairs and BCR, however, addresses this updated policy. Student Affairs wrote back to BCR that the “draft policy and timeline can be reviewed on this web page, and we would welcome your feedback.” The email also linked to a Google form for BCR to contribute to.

The author of YAF’s press release, Spencer Brown, said “the only thing that was made clear in the email was (UC Berkeley’s) disregard for the first amendment rights of their students.”

According to campus spokesperson Dan Mogulof, however, the administration’s correspondence does not mean the event is canceled. “We believe there should be no trouble getting an event scheduled on that day,” Mogulof said. “We completely support BCR.”

Mogulof added that BCR and campus administrators have yet to meet in person to discuss the event. 

“We need to meet with them,” he said.

Audrey McNamara is the executive news editor. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @McNamaraAud.