ASUC Senate fails to pass resolution denouncing UC Berkeley subsidization of Ben Shapiro event

Catherine Wallin/File

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ASUC Senate convened Wednesday to discuss a highly contentious senate resolution that was pulled from last week’s agenda for legal reconsideration. After some minor amendments, the bill was put on the agenda for Wednesday but was voted down with five in favor and 15 against.

Senate Resolution 7, or “Denouncing and Demanding the Immediate Rescission of UC Berkeley’s Subsidization of Hate Speech,” was the main item of consideration for the evening. Several community members who spoke during the public comment session were highly supportive of the bill. While some said the actions outlined in the bill were necessary, others said they believed the language of the bill was not strong enough.

“I hope the resolution gets voted on unanimously,” Yvette Felarca, an organizer for the activist group By All Means Necessary, said during the meeting. “Sanctuary means protecting immigrants.  … I think this resolution should take stronger language.”

ASUC senators then debated the resolution on open floor. Several senators expressed reservations about the resolution, stating that it conflated different resolutions that did not need to be in the same bill. Senator Alexander Wilfert suggested creating one bill condemning UC Berkeley’s subsidization of the Ben Shapiro speaking event and a separate bill condemning hate speech in general. He also said if the current version of the bill is passed, the ASUC Senate would be “sending a message that conservatives are not welcome.”

Senators also discussed whether Shapiro should be condemned in a similar fashion to Milo Yiannopoulus and Steve Bannon. Senator Madison Miller said she believed Yiannopoulos and Shapiro should not be put in the same category.

“Being a right conservative person does not make you condemnable,” Miller said during the meeting.

Senator Adnan Hemani said in an email that the reason he voted against the resolution was that he believed it included “extensive language bashing” of a registered campus student organization. He added that he believed the more fundamental issue that the resolution should address is the condemnation of the campus’s decision to subsidize Shapiro’s speaking event.

“While my personal values do not necessarily align with that of the student organization, I do not believe that we as an Association can claim to represent all UC Berkeley students if we start talking hard-lined stances against fellow students,” Hemani said in an email.

Senator Juniperangelica Cordova, however, disagreed, stating that she believes Shapiro is a “hateful speaker” who has “consistently enacted hate speech” with regards to transgender people.

“He has questioned my existence,” Cordova said.

After the meeting, ASUC senators Rizza Estaccio and Nuha Khalfay, sponsor and co-sponsor of the bill, respectively, said there were some misconceptions about the bill that led to its failure. They added that “people voted as they saw fit,” but said they believed that the idea that the bill was somehow attacking all conservative ideology and students on campus was wrong.

Joseph Greenwell, UC Berkeley associate vice chancellor for student affairs, also attended the meeting to address senators’ questions and concerns about upcoming events on campus. He said the campus prioritizes “safety and security” and is working closely with groups that might be affected by Shapiro’s Sept. 14 event.

According to Greenwell, more information about potential resources will be sent out soon.

Azwar Shakeel is the lead student government reporter. Contact him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @azwarshakeel12.