Conservative organization Young America’s Foundation (YAF) announced Tuesday that it will cover a $15,000 security fee that UC Berkeley levied on its College Republican group to host political commentator Ben Shapiro on Sept. 14.
UC Berkeley is waiving approximately $13,000 in staffing and venue fees for the event in an effort to show its support for free speech, according to YAF. The incident comes a week after UC Berkeley announced that the 2017-2018 school year would be “Free Speech Year” on campus.
“Berkeley’s tendency to run to friendly press in feeble attempts to curry favor and salvage a damaged public image aren’t working. The outcry from students, conservatives across the country, and even liberal elites including Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren proves the indefensibility of Berkeley’s continued anti-conservative and anti-free speech actions,” said Spencer Brown, YAF’s spokesman. “The sincerity of any claims made by Berkeley should be questioned given the school’s past stated inability to find a venue for YAF’s lecture with Ben Shapiro, and public claims that they’d cover the cost of a venue when one suddenly appeared.”
UC Berkeley has occupied the center of a college free speech firestorm in 2017. The school cancelled conservative provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos’ February speech amid riots resulting in thousands of dollars in property damage. Ann Coulter also cancelled an April speech after YAF determined a significant threat to student safety.
“It is our police department, not the administration that determines the fee and it cant be ‘disclosed’ until the hosting organization makes up its mind about audience size and other event details,” said Dan Mogulof, spokesman for UC Berkeley, to TheDCNF. “As soon as the [Berkeley College Republicans (BCR)] decided on its audience size, they knew exactly what the fe [sic] would be.”
Mogulof explained that the group originally asked for 500 seats, an audience size for which the corresponding security fee would have been $5,874. BCR then suggested a 1000-person audience size, which would have yielded a security fee of $9,162.
“Last week, the BCR ultimately decided they wanted a capacity audience of 1984, and they had previously been informed that the security fee for that would be $15,738.”
Mogulof also attached documents outlining security fees charged for other events at UC Berkeley. While the fee charged to BCR for the Shapiro event dwarfed fees for other events, the UC Berkeley police charged over $26,000 for an event featuring the Dalai Lama, over $18,000 of which compensated 25 officers.
“The ‘security charge’ being levied against the Berkeley College Republicans is unaffordable for them—$15,738 dollars is more than the base undergraduate tuition this year at Berkeley—and amounts to a tax on free speech that cripples students’ ability to bring in speakers for educational events,” said Brown to TheDCNF, further asserting that it was “absurd” for students to pay for police that have a “stand-down order.” (RELATED: Why Were The Police Held Back In Charlottesville?)
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