Berkeley College Republicans to pay $16K for Ben Shapiro event security

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Update 08/20/2017: This article has been updated to reflect additional information provided by the campus on security fees for past speaker events.

The Berkeley College Republicans, or BCR, will pay more than $15,000 for the basic security costs of Ben Shapiro’s visit to campus Sept. 14.

BCR Executive Vice President Naweed Tahmas confirmed that the group has booked 1,984 seats — the maximum capacity of Zellerbach Hall — for the event. While the campus has committed to paying for the rental and staffing costs, BCR agreed to pay $15,738 for the the basic security costs.

In an email to the campus, Tahmas stated that BCR is “disappointed the university would charge our student organization such a high security fee,” though they have decided to go forward with the event to promote a “diversity of thought” on campus.  

“The formula (for security costs) is based on neutral criteria and is applied in a completely consistent fashion without regard for the identity of the student organization or the speaker,” said campus spokesperson Dan Mogulof.

Mogulof added that security costs are assessed by UCPD — not the administration — based on the safety and well-being of members of the community and campus.

According to financial documents provided by Mogulof about past speaker events on campus, the security fee to host Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor in Zellerbach Hall in 2011 was about $5,824. Mogulof said, however, the requested crowd space for that event was much smaller. He added that had BCR stuck with its original requested 500 seats, its fees would be comparable to the Sotomayor event fees.

The invoices also show that hiring fees, or “recharge rates,” for security personnel, such as police officers and sergeants, have fluctuated slightly over the years.

Among the provided invoices, the highest speaker event security fee was about $26,511 for the Dalai Lama in 2009, whose event was scheduled for all 8,500 seats in the Greek Theatre.

Contact Malini Ramaiyer at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @malinisramaiyer.