Several UC Berkeley students have come together to create the Berkeley Conservative Society, aiming to “bring back political decency to Berkeley,” said society founder and president Celine Bookin.
The creation of the student organization comes at a time of political contention among students on campus. The society was established at the start of the semester with a focus on bipartisan debate and discussion, and it aims to collaborate with the Cal Berkeley Democrats, according to the society’s vice president, Meera Nagpal.
“We decided to launch the Berkeley Conservative Society … to create a place where conservatives of all shades of red on the spectrum can come together to discuss the important policy issues of today,” Bookin said.
Nagpal added that the society will promote a public forum for people with a range of conservative beliefs to learn about differing political ideologies on campus. According to Bookin and Nagpal, many former members of the Berkeley College Republicans, a prominent conservative student organization on campus, have been involved with the society since its launch and are ready to participate and aid in future events and activities.
Bookin was previously an active member of BCR, but she said she has not been active in the club since last year. BCR made national headlines this year in the midst of protests and riots surrounding the scheduled campus appearances of several controversial conservative speakers, such as Milo Yiannopoulos, Ann Coulter and Ben Shapiro. All three were invited to speak at UC Berkeley by members of BCR.
“They’re great people,” Bookin said of BCR. “They’re definitely focused on advocating for the Republican Party and bringing high-profile speakers.”
Bookin said the Berkeley Conservative Society will take a collaborative and “civilized” approach to inspiring political discourse on relevant issues.
On Thursday, BCR secretary Bradley Devlin impeached club President Troy Worden, citing his alleged poor handling of activities surrounding Shapiro’s Sept. 14 appearance on campus. BCR allegedly intends to elect a “less ‘alt-right’ ” member as its new president, according to a BCR member who asked to remain anonymous out of concern for his reputation.
Devlin, who intends to run for president of BCR in Worden’s place, said he encourages members of the Berkeley Conservative Society to attend BCR meetings and even join the organization. He added that he does not find the presence of another conservative club on campus to be a source of competition for BCR.
“If students create more clubs and have more power on campus, the principle of being decent human beings in discourse shouldn’t just apply to conservative groups — it should apply to every political group,” Devlin said. “I hope the officers in the Berkeley Conservative Society do what they can to uphold that.”
A previous version of this article may have implied that Ben Shapiro is a far-right speaker.