UC Berkeley administrators have proposed rescheduling Ann Coulter’s campus appearance for September, citing safety concerns.
Coulter was originally scheduled to deliver a talk on immigration April 27 after Berkeley College Republicans and BridgeUSA, formerly known as BridgeCal, invited her to speak on campus in March. But in an email sent to BCR on Tuesday night, campus Vice Chancellors Scott Biddy and Stephen Sutton said UCPD and the Division of Student Affairs could not find a safe and suitable location for the event.
“We regret this outcome — especially given our unqualified support for our students’ right to bring speakers of their choosing to the University, and our deep commitment to the values and principles embedded in the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution,” the email stated.
UCPD had learned that certain groups responsible for the violence that played out at the Milo Yiannopoulos event in February and the Free Speech Rally in Berkeley on Saturday planned to make an appearance at the upcoming Coulter talk, according to an email from UC Berkeley spokesperson Dan Mogulof.
“UCPD’s concerns and recommendations were significantly influenced by escalating violence during demonstration-related events on the campus and surrounding areas of the City,” Mogulof said in the email.
In their email, Biddy and Sutton said the campus had first learned of Coulter’s appearance on campus “through the newspapers.” They requested that before student groups commit to hosting events on a specific date, they collaborate with the campus to find appropriate venues.
Biddy and Sutton said in the email that UCPD and the Division of Student Affairs remain “firmly committed” to helping BCR set up an alternative time and date for the Coulter event, recommending Mondays and Tuesdays in September as options. They added that the campus would require at least four weeks’ notice to successfully identify a venue, time of day and security arrangements.
“It’s unfortunate that the university learned about the Coulter event from reading about in the newspaper,” Mogulof said. “Advance planning and advance notice are key to holding events that are safe and are successful.”
Despite the campus’s postponement, Ann Coulter told the Hollywood Reporter that she will still be holding her event on the campus April 27. She tweeted the Hollywood Reporter’s article calling it the “real story,” while alleging that the San Francisco Chronicle was “fake news” on a tweet linking to a CBS Local story about the event’s postponement.
Spencer Brown, a spokesperson for Young America’s Foundation — a conservative organization that is helping fund the event — said the event was “essentially cancelled,” but that the event will happen on campus “whether Berkeley likes it or not.”
“We are currently moving ahead with plans and pursuing all remedies of the cancellation of Ms. Coulter’s speech,” Brown said.
Members of BCR and BridgeUSA plan to meet with campus administrators Wednesday at 2 p.m. to discuss the Coulter event moving forward, according to BCR Internal Vice President Pieter Sittler.
BCR spokesperson Naweed Tahmas alleged that the campus had enacted a 3 p.m. curfew on BCR’s events without their knowledge, saying in an email that “liberal speakers have the privilege of speaking in the evening, while conservative speakers must speak only before 3 P.M.”
Mogulof, however, called this allegation “categorically false,” saying that the curfew applies to any event that has been shown to likely incite violent protests, regardless of political affiliation or content of the event.
Cal Berkeley Democrats Vice President of Membership Caiden Nason said he is concerned the campus’s postponement of the event may lead to more political division and violence in the community.
“I am worried that we are going to see more presence of (neo-Nazis and white supremacists in Berkeley) since people will be assuming it’s a banning of a free speech rather than an act in supporting safety of students,” Nason said.
Pranav Jandhyala, BridgeUSA founder and co-president, said although his organization and BCR are still advocating that the event take place April 27, the potential postponement is “disappointing from a nonpartisan perspective.”
“The whole job of a university is to promote diversity of opinions,” Jandhyala said. “If an event is going to be canceled because the content of someone’s speech is too inflammatory, that’s disappointing to me and to my organization.”
Contact Pressly Pratt, Andrea Platten and Harini Shyamsundar at [email protected].