The Young America’s Foundation criticized UC Berkeley administration Tuesday for shrinking the number of seats allocated for conservative writer Ben Shapiro’s talk Sept. 14.
In a press release issued Tuesday morning, YAF spokesperson Spencer Brown stated campus officials had notified event organizers that they would be lowering the maximum number of seats from 1,978 to 1,024. This latest development in Shapiro’s scheduled event follows controversies surrounding the nearly $16,000 security fee charged to YAF and Berkeley College Republicans for hosting Shapiro in Zellerbach Hall.
“This latest attempt by UC Berkeley to prevent students from hearing Ben Shapiro at this stop of the Fred Allen Lecture Series reeks of desperation and hypocrisy,” Brown wrote in the press release.
According to campus spokesperson Dan Mogulof, the maximum audience size was decreased because the balcony overlooking Zellerbach’s main floor will be closed due to safety concerns. Anything thrown from the balcony could cause injuries to people below, and confrontations could result in “significant injury” if anyone falls over the railing, Mogulof wrote in an email.
Due to the decrease in audience size, Mogulof added, the security fee for the event will also be reduced to $9,162. Mogulof wrote that the campus will still take financial responsibility for the venue and staffing costs.
Campus officials were criticized recently for not yet releasing tickets for Shapiro’s event, with an article for the conservative publication Daily Wire alleging YAF and BCR representatives were unable to set up a meeting with Cal Performances to discuss the matter. According to Mogulof, ticketing for the event will begin when BCR finalizes their decisions about “logistical specifics.”
“Berkeley’s press leaks, public statements, and grandstanding on a ‘free speech year’ fall far short of believable or convincing when their hypocritical actions over the past six months are considered,” Brown wrote.