New UC Berkeley policy loosens restrictions for major campus events

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Cherry Wu/Staff

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UC Berkeley’s new major event policy includes several key changes that enable student organizations and nondepartmental users to effectively and safely host events on campus.

The policy was shaped by the campus events of spring 2017, according to Interim Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Stephen Sutton. The campus solicited feedback from the community in shaping the policy, most of which came from student comments.

This will be the first time a new campus event policy has been implemented since August 2017. One of the key changes is shortening the deadline for notifying the campus of a potential major event from eight to six weeks. This clause was included because students expressed a desire for a shorter notification time.

“We found as a result of the events we had last spring — you know the Ann Coulter event that never happened — we really need to tighten up our policies and make them clearer for students,” Sutton said.

The new policy incorporates this popular opinion while still giving UCPD enough time to plan for security, Sutton said. Spontaneous events, however, will still be allowed on Upper and Lower Sproul plazas from 6 a.m. to midnight.

“A lot of people contacted the vice chancellor of student affairs about how it’s unreasonable, because you need to know halfway of a semester beforehand to invite a speaker,” ASUC President Zaynab AbdulQadir-Morris said.

One of the campus’s main concerns is its commitment to safety and protecting students’ First Amendment rights, according to campus spokesperson Dan Mogulof.

“We saw that there are individuals and organizations at the opposite ends of the political spectrum willing to turn the campus into a battleground,” Mogulof said. “(The campus) has an unwavering commitment to the rights of the First Amendment and safety.”

Under the new policy, the number of participants considered to constitute a major event has increased from 200 to 300. In addition, dance performances are no longer considered major events.

The new policy also stipulates that an event will be considered “major” if alcohol is to be served. This rule does not apply, however, if the event is held at the Lawrence Hall of Science, the UC Botanical Garden, Blake House or Anthony Hall, or if the event is a memorial service attended by fewer than 300 people.

“I think they’re making it much easier,” AbdulQadir-Morris said. “I still think the number (of people that constitutes a major event) should be bumped. I think the timeline should still be shorter, but there’s a lot of language in the new policy that reflects that the university does not want to get in the way of our ability to have programs.”

Gioia von Staden is the lead student life reporter. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @GioiaVon.