UC Berkeley gearing up for Ben Shapiro appearance by increasing security, offering counseling
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UC Berkeley gearing up for Ben Shapiro appearance by increasing security, offering counseling

Ben Shapiro

Ben Shapiro speaking at the Pasadena Convention Center in California, July 30, 2017. (Joshua Blanchard/Getty Images for Politicon)

(JTA) — The University of California Berkeley is gearing up for a visit by conservative political commentator Ben Shapiro by tightening campus security and offering counseling services for students.

Shapiro, a former Breitbart News editor, who currently works as a political commentator, author, radio talk show host and lawyer is scheduled to speak on the UC Berkeley campus on Sept. 14 on the topic “Campus Thuggery.” The event is hosted by the Berkeley College Republicans and the Young America’s Foundation.

Several university buildings surrounding Zellerbach Hall, where Shapiro’s appearance is to be held, will be closed off the afternoon of the speech and those arriving to attend the speech will have to go through security barriers and show their tickets for the event, according to a statement posted on the university’s website by Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Paul Alivisatos.

There also will be an “increased and highly visible police presence,” according to the statement.

“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,” the provost’s statement said.

The university also announced that it would provide support and counseling services for students, staff and faculty, saying: “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.”

Shapiro, who is a practicing Orthodox Jew, mocked the university’s offer of counseling in a tweet which read: “This Shabbat I told my three-year-old she couldn’t have more candy. She immediately registered for counseling at Berkeley.”

 

The university said the success or failure of the arrangements for Shapiro’s visit will inform how it handles future appearances by controversial speakers. Alt right British political commentator and media personality Milo Yiannopolous also is scheduled to appear at UC Berkeley this school year. An appearance by Yiannopolous that was scheduled last year had been cancelled after a protest of the speech turned violent.