Conservative author Ann Coulter has been reinvited to speak at UC Berkeley on May 2 — an announcement made a day after news broke that the campus had postponed the event because of active security threats.
Chancellor Nicholas Dirks announced at a press conference Thursday that the campus had found an appropriate location for the event to go on despite a Tuesday announcement that the event would likely be rescheduled for September. Dirks said the campus location will be disclosed once the campus has finalized the event with the Berkeley College Republicans and BridgeUSA, the student groups that originally invited Coulter to speak.
The event was initially scheduled to take place April 27, but campus vice chancellors Scott Biddy and Stephen Sutton sent an email to BCR alerting them to security risks amid a recent spate of massive protests. The postponement of the Coulter event drew national attention Wednesday in light of concerns that the campus was censoring free speech.
“As the home of the Free Speech Movement, we fully support the right and ability of our students to host speakers of their choice,” Dirks said at the press conference. “We believe that exposing students to a diverse array of perspectives is an inherent and inseparable part of our educational mission.”
In February, a campus talk by former Breitbart writer Milo Yiannopoulos was canceled after a fiery protest erupted, and fights broke out Saturday when demonstrators clashed at the Free Speech Rally held in Berkeley’s Martin Luther King Jr. Civic Center Park.
“Berkeley has become a focal point for these demonstrations recently,” said UCPD Capt. Alex Yao at the press conference. “The safety of our community is a high priority for us.”
Yao added that UCPD’s approach and staffing for the upcoming Coulter event will be different than for the Yiannopoulos event, but he declined to go into specifics.
Regarding the cancellation of the April 27 event, campus spokesperson Dan Mogulof said at the press conference that the campus’s primary concern was being able to provide the “necessary level of security and safety” for both Coulter and campus students.
BCR spokesperson Naweed Tahmas said the organization had “no intention” of working with campus administrators with regards to the scheduled May 2 event.
“We’re still moving forward with Coulter coming on April 27, no matter how many times the campus whines about it,” Tahmas said.
BridgeUSA Co-president Pranav Jandhyala said his organization is still evaluating whether May 2 will be a feasible date to host the event, citing concerns that Coulter’s security team may not be able to accommodate the newly proposed date. He was also unsure of whether the Young America’s Foundation would still sponsor Coulter’s talk.
He added that while he appreciated that the campus had made an effort to reschedule the event to an earlier date than September, he is concerned about how the logistics of the event will unfold.
“They’re extending this little show of an olive branch,” Jandhyala said. “They could be doing a lot more.”
Contact Andrea Platten, Bobby Lee and Harini Shyamsundar at [email protected].