What is the Berkeley Patriot, the student group organizing ‘Free Speech Week’?

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UC Berkeley has been under the spotlight for “Free Speech Week,” but the student organization behind the event remains largely unknown.

The Berkeley Patriot editor in chief Mike Wright said the Berkeley Patriot is a student-run conservative online publication that aims to use Free Speech Week to expand its reach and promote free speech. The Berkeley Patriot was created over the summer to replace its predecessor, the California Patriot, according to Wright, who co-founded the revamped publication.

“Our main mission is to promote conservative values as well as cover issues that people across this country find important about the Berkeley community,” Wright said. “There’s a lot of things that are happening here that have importance in a national context, and we want to be able to cover those as well as issues that are important to students.”

The Berkeley Patriot is currently only producing online content via its new website, where it has published five articles as of press time. But the California Patriot, which was founded in 2000, produced hard copy magazines.

Content published in the California Patriot magazines ranged from campus-related stories, such as ASUC candidate endorsements, to state and national political commentary. On its website, the Berkeley Patriot also covers local and national news, including Ben Shapiro’s campus speaking event, the protest that took place in Martin Luther King Jr. Civic Center Park on Aug. 27 and the concept of free speech.

Wright added that the Berkeley Patriot is planning to “be more news-orientated and break more stories” than the California Patriot.

The Berkeley Patriot news editor Pranav Jandhyala said that while the Berkeley Patriot is a conservative publication, it strives to be objective and unbiased. Recently, the Berkeley Patriot wrote an article about the lack of violence during Ben Shapiro’s speaking event on campus, saying that “for once in Berkeley, reason and civility defeated the forces of anarchy.”

Although Berkeley Patriot spokesperson Bryce Kasamoto confirmed that the publication is rebranding itself with its new name, it is still officially registered as a Registered Student Organization under the name of the California Patriot, according to CalLink and the ASUC Fiscal Year 2017-18 Budget.

“Our mission is essentially to provide objective news from UC Berkeley to the nation. We think UC Berkeley is a microcosm for news,” Jandhyala said. “We still abide by the same standards (as the California Patriot). There’s no image change that we’re really looking for.”

ASUC Chief Financial Officer Paul Cho said in an email that the 2017-18 academic year marks the third year in which the California Patriot has received funding from the ASUC.

According to the ASUC Fiscal Year 2017-18 Budget, the publication is receiving $800 in allocations from the ASUC this year. Previously, the publication requested $4,040 from the ASUC for the 2014-15 academic year but was only allotted $700, according to the ASUC 2014-15 Budget.

“Based from their application, we allocate the funding for that RSO for the next upcoming academic year,” Cho said in his email. “No organization has a set amount for them each year — it is always based on their application and our bylaws.”

Wright said the Berkeley Patriot became involved with Free Speech when Milo Yiannopoulos, whose campus event was canceled Feb. 1 due to violent protests on Sproul Plaza, contacted the Berkeley College Republicans about returning to campus. Wright said BCR was unable to host the event, so the Berkeley Patriot took the opportunity to expand its publication and recruit new writers by organizing Free Speech Week with Yiannopoulos.

The Berkeley Patriot is currently preparing for Free Speech Week, but plans to work toward a monthly print publication, Kasamoto said. He added that the Berkeley Patriot is currently composed of about 20 staff members.

Wright, Kasamoto and Jandhyala all emphasized that free speech is a key aspect of the Berkeley Patriot’s mission.

“We don’t want to seem like we support someone like Milo, because we don’t. We’re simply inviting him because free speech is protected,” Jandhyala said. “Obviously people will go ahead and make the statement that we’re on the far right, that we’re Nazi sympathizers, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth.”

Contact Danielle Kaye at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @danielledkaye.

Clarification(s):
A previous version of this article may have implied that Milo Yiannopoulos has not been invited to speak on campus before. In fact, Yiannopoulos was set to speak on campus in February, but his event was canceled due to protests.

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  • BerkPed

    Does the Berkeley Patriot even know who pays for Milo Y to come here?

    It seems likely that we are enduring all of this suffering because some rich person has donated enough money to yank our chain.

    • zzz

      If someone I don’t like speaks at a college my chain is being yanked?

      Or

      You need to deal with life?

    • lspanker

      Your chain wouldn’t be yanked if you weren’t so hyper-sensitive over the thought that people speaking in Berkeley may not share your particular views. It’s not like anyone’s forcing you to attend…

  • Ranger Bagel

    Given the seeming inability of members of the Berkeley Patriot to follow basic logistical protocols in organizing this event, I wonder if they are sabotaging it for propaganda purposes, or if they’re just incompetent. Other student groups sure don’t fail the basics so embarrassingly. Scheduling speakers who then turn around and say emphatically they will not appear alongside Milo? Complaining about not receiving subsidies but still signing contracts? Come on.

    “They were asked to sign a contract that is identical — that BCR signed — that is identical to the contract the campus (itself) would sign if they wanted to use Zellerbach,” Mogulof said. “They want preferential treatment. They will not receive it.”

    Further, from the same article by the Daily Cal, “the Berkeley Patriot wanted a clause in their contract that would absolve the group from any potential damage on campus that could result from Free Speech Week, and alleged that this same clause was in the contract for BCR’s event with Yiannopoulos in February, as BCR did not have to pay for damages from the event. Mogulof, however, said this clause was not in BCR’s contract.”

    So, to what do we attribute these absurd failures and falsehoods? Deception or ineptitude?

    • BerkPed

      Campus groups running high-risk events are required to get insurance. There is a system for applying for it, or for using their own, but asking to be indemnified seems crazy

      Lots of specific instructions about event planning for students orgs, insurance requirements etc, are here:

      http://lead.berkeley.edu/manage-your-organization/plan-events-programs/high-risk-events/
      and
      http://ucberk.campusconnexionsuc.com/Constituency/Registered-Student-Organization

      As the free speech week is open to the public, they should have applied for underwriting 10 days before the event.

      “If any of the above are applicable, your event will require additional underwriting.
      Please click the RSO Application Form button below to print and
      complete the paper application form and submit it to Mercer via email at
      [email protected] or fax at 1-515-365-3005. Please be sure to submit your application at least 7 to 10 days prior to the event to allow for underwriting.”

      • Ranger Bagel

        It’s very hard to believe that the university is somehow out to destroy this event when the protocols are so easily accessible. It suggests an abominable kind of confidence that the Berkeley Patriot thinks people will read them as victims of censorship when their claims illustrate them as, at best, totally inept, or, at worst, totally dishonest.

  • CSears

    “We don’t want to seem like we support someone like Milo, because we don’t. We’re simply inviting him because free speech is protected.”

    Wow. Just wow.

    • Fahargo

      I’m imagining their blatant lie is not the only problem you have with free speech week

      • CSears

        Maybe if they invited Kathy Griffin I’d give them some props. But this is just right wing nut job propaganda week. The only free part of it is that they don’t have the money to pay for it.

        • lspanker

          But this is just right wing nut job propaganda week.

          Your opinion of any particular speaker in question is irrelevant. Grow up and get over it.

    • Emilia M.

      It’s so refreshing that there will finally be free speech again in Berkeley! Even if it’s just for a week, I want to be there and cherish every minute of that long forgotten feeling!

      • CSears

        Precious, I’m on campus twice a week. Troll someone somewhere else.

  • Pietro Gambadilegno

    Where is its new web site? When I search for Berkeley Patriot, all I get is this old site, filled with broken links http://www.californiapatriot.org/magazine/
    The fact that this old site is still up shows that the people organizing the Berkeley Patriot are inept. A site with their name on top where every single link is broken really makes them look bad.

  • lspanker

    Freedom of speech… what a concept. The question is whether the sheltered snowflakes known as Cal Berkeley students these days can handle it…

    • Emilia M.

      No. Trust me, many of them can’t. It gives them fits of apoplexy.

      • lspanker

        Apparently so, given the continual whining by the usual suspects.