In the midst of a financial crisis, UC Berkeley spent nearly $4 million on free speech events in just one month last semester.
That’s about the same as 280 in-state students’ tuition dollars for one year. The multimillion dollar price tag drastically exceeds both initial estimates and this year’s campus budget allocation of less than $500,000 toward handling protests and demonstrations, according to campus spokesperson Dan Mogulof.
Recently, the UC Board of Regents expressed frustration with Gov. Jerry Brown’s budget because the state didn’t allocate enough to help the UC accommodate increased student enrollment. For the last couple of years, UC Berkeley has been making a concerted effort to reduce its budget deficit. Both the UC system and the campus are in a dire financial state — and yet, the campus is obligated to cast millions of precious dollars into the flames of Milo Yiannopoulos’s “free speech” publicity mission.
Mogulof said the campus has contingency plans to account for unplanned expenses to the campus. Additionally, in this case, the UC Office of the President has offered to pay half the costs, leaving UC Berkeley to pay the remaining $2 million out of funding sources that are not reserved for other purposes.
But the fact remains: UC Berkeley will be spending millions that could be put to much better use. Undocumented Student Program lawyer Prerna Lal said the campus’s financial support for the program is “nonexistent,” and the Title IX office also needs more money to help combat the campus’s pervasive sexual misconduct problem.
“There are lots of ways in which I would have preferred to use that $2 million,” said Chancellor Carol Christ during a Graduate Assembly meeting Thursday.
It’s outrageous that the campus and the UC have to dish out an exorbitant amount of money for events that prompted professors to cancel classes out of safety concerns for their students.
It’s frustrating that the campus has to spend millions on an event that was clearly a last-ditch attempt for a fallen public figure to regain the media’s attention after he made comments that appeared to condone pedophilia.
When UC Berkeley is forced to pay millions of dollars to allow campus groups to host bigoted speakers, it puts its students in danger and starves them of much-needed funds.
But on the bright side, the campus saved face to a group of donors, alumni and legislators who wanted UC Berkeley to uphold its reputation as the bastion of free speech. Was it worth it?
Editorials represent the majority opinion of the Editorial Board as written by the opinion editor.