ASUC Senate denounces UC Berkeley’s subsidization of Ben Shapiro event

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ASUC Senate convened Wednesday to discuss final security arrangements ahead of Ben Shapiro’s scheduled campus appearance Thursday and to put forth a statement in response to UC Berkeley’s subsidization of the event.

Senate Resolution 7, or “Denouncing UC Berkeley’s Subsidization of the Ben Shapiro Event,” first appeared on the senate’s agenda two weeks ago but was removed because of legal loopholes in the language of the bill. It appeared on the agenda again last week after going through some minor amendments, but it was ultimately voted down with five senators in favor and 15 against. This week, the senate passed a motion to reconsider SR 7, and after a brief discussion, the senate unanimously passed a stripped-down version of the original bill.

The new version of the bill does not condemn any student organizations, but it instead focuses on denouncing the campus for subsidizing Shapiro’s appearance and for restricting access to community centers located inside the Martin Luther King Jr. Student Union Building, Sproul Hall, the César E. Chávez Student Center and Eshleman Hall. All of these buildings will be closed Thursday as a result of the event being held in Zellerbach Hall.

“Associated Students of the University of California are in opposition to the administration of the University of California-Berkeley for their misguided decision to overlook student safety and well-being to accommodate an event on September 14th,” the bill text alleged.

Senator Rizza Estacio, primary sponsor of SR 7, said the decision to adjust the original bill instead of adopting a new one was due to the rejection of the original bill last week. Making a statement about a new bill similar to the rejected bill would have “looked bad,” according to Estacio. Senator Nuha Khalfay, co-author of SR 7, said an offline decision was made to put forth a statement.

UC Berkeley Dean of Students Joseph Greenwell said during the meeting that the campus will extend counseling services to those who require them. Greenwell also said there will be a large police presence during the event. Security monitors will be put in place to serve as “de-escalators” in case of any altercation, according to Greenwell.

“We are not a token student government. We represent more than 30,000 students on campus which is a huge responsibility,” Khalfay said during the meeting. “(We) request to invite Carol so we can speak with her directly.”

Senator Alexander Wilfert said during the meeting that he believes it is important for the administration to hear the voices of its student body.

“Please advocate for student safety, which is the number one priority,” Wilfert said during the meeting. “We need to stop prioritizing speakers over students.”

Senate Resolution 9, or “Resolution In Favor of the Termination of the UCPD Officer S. Aranas,” was also on Wednesday’s agenda. The bill cites Aranas’ alleged “abuse of power in his interaction with a community street food vendor.” A petition to remove Aranas has already received 21,000 signatures.

Also present at the meeting was Jay Miller, a 1968 Berkeley graduate and former ASUC senator. UC Berkeley’s class of 1968 will celebrate its 50th reunion next year, and Miller, along with Nathan Kelleher, a former senator and member of the class of 2018, attended the meeting to discuss how the two graduating classes can collaborate in making the reunion happen.

At the meeting, Miller said he joined UC Berkeley during the Free Speech Movement in 1964, adding that present issues the campus is facing are an extension of the events of 50 years past.

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