Following a series of disagreements with campus administration over possible speaking event dates and venues, conservative author Ann Coulter has confirmed that she will speak at UC Berkeley on Thursday regardless of security concerns raised by UCPD, according to Pranav Jandhyala, founder and co-president of BridgeUSA.
Coulter was invited by Berkeley College Republicans, or BCR, and BridgeUSA to speak on campus Thursday, April 27 on the topic of illegal immigration. After UCPD learned that certain groups responsible for inciting violence at Milo Yiannopoulos’s event in February were planning to make an appearance at Coulter’s event, however, campus administration announced that it was postponing Coulter’s speech to September.
On Thursday, the campus rescinded its previous decision to postpone Coulter’s speech and extended an invitation to the right-wing author to speak May 2. Coulter, however, raised concerns that the proposed date falls during RRR week, when instruction has ended. The campus is no longer planning to host the event May 2 after BCR threatened to file a lawsuit — and BCR did file a lawsuit Monday.
Campus spokesperson Dan Mogulof said Coulter’s concerns were confusing to the administration because she initially objected to giving her speech Thursday afternoon, when students would be in class.
Jandhyala said Coulter’s concerns were misinterpreted. Coulter’s main concern was that during RRR week, students are more likely to be studying for finals and therefore might be less inclined to listen to her speech, according to Jandhyala.
Jandhyala expressed concerns regarding the negative image that recent protests have shed upon the campus. He said it is important for people outside the campus community to recognize that the violence is not a reflection of the campus, but rather of unaffiliated groups hoping to stir up trouble.
“What I’m worried about is our campus community, and our community as a whole, looking like it’s something it’s not,” Jandhyala said.
A member of BCR could not be reached for comment.
According to Mogulof, the campus is coordinating with UCPD to do whatever is necessary to protect students and members of the community. UC San Francisco’s Office of the Chief confirmed that it has been called to assist UC Berkeley’s UCPD in securing the event Thursday.
“We will have an increased law enforcement presence on our campus to ensure the safety of our community,” said UCPD spokesperson Sgt. Sabrina Reich in an email.
According to Jandhyala, despite the possibility of UCPD security at the event, violence is nearly guaranteed to break out if Coulter gives her speech on Sproul Plaza.
“We’re definitely going to try to do everything that we can to turn a speech that might end up being violent into an event where dialogue between students can be created,” Jandhyala said.