The coming appearance of Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul, who will speak in Zellerbach Hall at 7 p.m. Thursday night, has been met with mixed responses from the campus community.
The town hall is expected to draw a large crowd, but the turnout does not necessarily mean that students and faculty are unified in their views about Paul’s candidacy. Students expressed a wide range of opinions regarding the libertarian candidate and his policies, which include abolishing the income tax and the Federal Reserve.
The event was organized by Students for Liberty and Youth for Ron Paul. Paul will speak for about 30 minutes about his plan to balance the national budget “by cutting $1 trillion in his first year and reducing spending even more thereafter” said Edward King, national youth director for Paul’s campaign, in an email.
Berkeley College Republicans President Shawn Lewis said he looks forward to attending the town hall, adding that Paul is not his first choice for the Republican nomination “because of some foreign policy and defense positions.”
Elena Kempf, a freshman and an editor for the Berkeley Political Review, said she felt it is ironic that Paul is speaking at a public university given his goal to cut government spending, which UC Berkeley relies on.
“He gets incredible support among young people,” Lewis said. “I’ve heard some people say that’s what’s great about Berkeley — we allow him to speak even though he doesn’t believe in public education. That’s not a great thing about Berkeley that’s a great thing about our country. Our country protects free speech.”
Professor of public policy Robert Reich — who served as the U.S. Secretary of Labor under former Democratic President Bill Clinton — said in an email that he is excited for the event as an educational experience.
“It’s great Ron Paul is speaking here,” Reich said in the email. “Our community learns by hearing all views … We’re where the Free Speech Movement began.”