Steve Bannon to speak at UC Berkeley ‘Free Speech Week’

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The Berkeley Patriot, a conservative student newspaper, confirmed Tuesday that former White House chief strategist and Breitbart editor Steve Bannon has been scheduled to appear at UC Berkeley during its “Free Speech Week.”

Bannon was confirmed to be attending Free Speech Week a couple of weeks ago, said Pranav Jandhyala, news editor at the Berkeley Patriot. In a YouTube video posted to Milo Yiannopoulos’s channel Tuesday morning, Yiannopoulos publicly announced that Bannon will be joining him for the event. Although multiple news outlets have reported that Bannon is scheduled to appear on the final day, Jandhyala was not able to confirm on which day Bannon would be speaking or what Bannon’s speech would be about.

“We’re extremely excited. It’s very, very rare to see Bannon make this kind of public appearance,” Jandhyala said. “Throughout his seven months (at the White House) … I think he made a total of one speech to the public. … It’s a very rare opportunity, and we understand how privileged we are, and we’re really looking forward to it.”

According to a website created by the Berkeley Patriot for the weeklong event, each of the four days will have a specific theme, beginning Sept. 24. The first day is called “Feminism Awareness Day,” followed by “Islamic Peace and Tolerance Day” on Sept. 25, “ZUCK 2020” on Sept. 26 and “Mario Savio is Dead” on Sept. 27. 

Jandhyala said the Berkeley Patriot decided to invite Bannon because he is “a very influential and key person,” particularly with regards to the political climate over the last year.

“Whether you like him or hate him, he’s been influential. … I think he’s the architect of Trump’s success,” Jandhyala said. “I’m really looking forward to meeting him and hearing from him, and I think the UC Berkeley community should be as well. It’s an amazing opportunity for everybody.”

Campus spokesperson Dan Mogulof said in an email that although Yiannopoulos and Bannon have both publicly said they will be speaking on campus during Free Speech Week, the campus cannot confirm exactly when or if they will be here.

“We have repeatedly asked representatives of the Berkeley Patriot to confirm that contracts have been completed between the student organization and each of these speakers; to date they have not,” Mogulof said in his email.

Mogulof added that information the Berkeley Patriot has shared with the campus regarding the scheduling of the proposed speakers conflicts with information shared with Yiannopoulos.

According to Mogulof, security arrangements for the week of Sept. 24 are also unconfirmed. Rental fees for venues have not yet been paid and contracts with venues have not been signed, Mogulof said in his email.

“Simply put, the University cannot provide the security and support the student organization has requested, and the campus wants to provide, if we do not receive the essential information,” Mogulof said in his email.

Check back for updates.

Contact Harini Shyamsundar, Ashley Wong and Chantelle Lee at [email protected].