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Sept. 14 Ben Shapiro event: logistics, safety & community values

Dear UC Berkeley community,

This is an important time for all of us as we work together to uphold our commitment to free speech and to our Principles of Community, including respect for the dignity of all members of our UC Berkeley community. I recommend that you consider viewing Chancellor Christ’s recent Berkeley Forum speech and the Q&A that followed.

Today I write about specific commitments we are making to support our community, as well as to share logistics and security arrangements for September 14. That evening, from 7-9 p.m., political commentator and radio talk show host Ben Shapiro will speak at Zellerbach Hall at the invitation of one of our registered student groups.  Our commitment to free speech, as well as to the law, mandates that the students who invited Shapiro be able to host their event for those who wish to hear him speak.  Our commitment to the principles of community mandates that all students, faculty, and staff be able to be present on campus, engaging in their regular academic activities without fear.  Achieving this poses unusual challenges for us; this memo lays out the arrangements that we are putting in place.

Building closures and parking restrictions

At 4 p.m. on September 14, UCPD will establish a closed perimeter around Zellerbach Hall and surrounding buildings. Buildings near Zellerbach Hall will be closed at 4 p.m., with no access permitted. The perimeter will be assembled over the course of the day starting in the morning. Affected buildings include: César E. Chávez Student Center, Alumni House, Martin Luther King Jr. Student Union, Sproul Hall, and Eshleman Hall. There will be a limited number of access points along the perimeter; beginning at 5:30 p.m., a ticket to the event will be required to gain entry into the perimeter.

Parking will be closed ALL DAY on September 14 at Barrow Lane Parking Spaces, Peppertree Lane Parking Spaces, North Sproul Lot, and the ASUC Garage.

Alternative options for those who work in closed buildings

We will offer as many options as possible so that students, faculty, and staff who work in buildings being closed can access alternative spaces and services. Campus colleges and schools have made spaces available to help meet these needs and to welcome those affected. A system is being set up to match those needing alternative spaces with the available spaces.  Please check with your manager or faculty leader about any changes to your work or class activities on September 14. I encourage managers and supervisors of staff, as well as faculty, to exercise discretion and flexibility as they explore alternative arrangements.

Logistics and security at Zellerbach Hall

Tickets to the Shapiro event will be available shortly, pending final decisions on logistics and ticket distribution.

  • Based on UCPD’s security recommendations, attendees must present a photo ID when picking up their tickets. No blocks of tickets will be made available to individuals or groups.
  • As is standard practice, prior to the event UCPD will provide a list of prohibited items. Our police will seek to deter and confront unlawful behavior, while strictly enforcing laws and policies regarding individuals wearing masks or carrying weapons of any sort.
  • Members of the campus community are encouraged to subscribe to Nixle to receive security updates.
  • An increased and highly visible police presence will be on campus on September 14.

Engage with respect and keep safe

Some may wish to attend the event and hear the speaker to form their own views.  Others may wish to stay away.  Some may wish to protest.  All activities can be done peacefully and with respect.  If you choose to protest, please seek ways to protest peacefully and safely while observing rules related to the student code of conduct and our Principles of Community.  If events escalate around you, please strongly consider leaving.

Support and counseling services for students, staff and faculty

We are deeply concerned about the impact some speakers may have on individuals’ sense of safety and belonging. No one should be made to feel threatened or harassed simply because of who they are or for what they believe. For that reason, the following support services are being offered and encouraged:

Logistics for future events

We will learn from what transpires next week and write to you again afterward with an assessment of whether these arrangements for September 14have met our commitments. We will also explore what will be needed for future events, such as those proposed by another registered student group that involve Milo Yiannopoulos and other possible guest speakers.

Commitment to building community, fostering greater understanding of free speech issues

Much investment – human resources, financial resources, and more – is being made to enable student groups to hold events at Berkeley, even those that may include speech that is antithetical to our values.  As a consequence, many on campus are calling for deep, incisive examination of our community values and what it means to uphold them.

To enable this discussion, the division of Equity and Inclusion (E&I) will revive the Campus Climate Speaker Series, which introduces powerful national voices, diverse scholars, cultural critics and activists to our collective discussion of campus climate. E&I will also launch a series of Community Affirmation and Empowerment workshops that will focus on helping our students, staff and faculty to thrive and affirm their varied, rich identities in our community, as well as our campus values.

Many activities are also being planned by academic and administrative units to affirm Berkeley’s commitment to a deep understanding of how these challenging times impact our campus’s diverse communities and climate.

Berkeley will uphold its campus values and principles of community by encouraging more speech. There is a Faculty Panel on Free Speech this Friday, September 9, and a series of Point-Counterpoint events will take place throughout the academic year. I hope you will make time to attend.

We will continue to add information and provide updates here.

Sincerely,
Paul Alivisatos, Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost