UC Berkeley spent an estimated $600,000 on security for Ben Shapiro’s talk. The campus is gearing up for a whole set of speakers next week. Photo: Roger Jones
UC Berkeley spent an estimated $600,000 on security for Ben Shapiro’s talk. The campus is gearing up for a whole set of speakers next week. Photo: Roger Jones

Update Sept. 21: The UC system will chip in $300,000 toward the $600,000 cost for security for the Sept. 14 talk by Ben Shapiro and an equivalent amount for the upcoming “Free Speech Week,” according to a spokeswoman for the Office of the President.

“This is not policy,” said Dianne Klein, an associate vice president of strategic communications & media relations. “It is in response to an extraordinary situation in which the university is intent on protecting free speech and the security of our students, staff and visitors.”

Original story: The roster for the upcoming “Free Speech Week” at UC Berkeley seems to change by the minute, but the latest iteration, released Wednesday by Cal, includes the possibility of former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon and pundit Ann Coulter.

The firebrands may appear alongside Milo Yiannopoulos, the mastermind and main funder of the event, Wednesday evening on Upper Sproul Plaza. Breitbart News editor and UC Berkeley alum Alex Marlow is listed as a possibility for the same 5-7 p.m. event.

The “Free Speech Week” organizers initially wanted to host Bannon and Coulter at indoor venues, but the university said the student group involved failed to follow campus protocol that would have made that possible. On Monday, Cal released another speaker list that did not include the controversial figures at all.

While those speakers and several others are still not confirmed, they are listed as possibilities on an allegedly final schedule provided Tuesday to the university by the Berkeley Patriot, the conservative campus publication helping plan the events. There are eight events occurring between Sunday, Sept. 24, and Wednesday, Sept. 27. There are only four confirmed speakers, but 13 others may show up, according to the schedule.

In the past week, multiple speakers originally included on the Berkeley Patriot’s list have publicly said they never agreed to be part of the event. Political scientist Charles Murray; James Damore, author of the controversial “Google memo”; Manhattan Institute fellow Heather Mac Donald and author Michael Malice have all said they do not plan to speak.

Despite the uncertainty shrouding the whole week, the university is “proceeding with the steps necessary to facilitate and provide security” for all the events on the students’ list, according to a university statement. The students must still confirm the remaining speakers and comply with UCPD security requirements.

Photo: Milo Yiannopoulos / Facebook

“We have told the student organization that we would like to know who exactly is coming so we can coordinate security with those individuals for their safety,” said UC Berkeley spokesman Dan Mogulof in the Wednesday statement. “We will keep the public updated as confirmations are received.”

In an email sent to the campus community later Wednesday, Chancellor Carol Christ apologized for the likely disruption — and offense — caused by the chain of talks by some inflammatory speakers.

“I want to first express my deep regret about the stress this is causing for many members of our campus community and the burden it is placing on people to continue their regular routines in the midst of what will cause a disruption here,” she wrote. “The ideas likely to be expressed by some of the speakers next week run counter to our Principles of Community, particularly the one that affirms the dignity of all individuals and encourages us to strive to uphold a just community where discrimination and hate are not tolerated.”

The administrators are not the only ones gearing up for the series of events; protesters are planning actions as well. A “No Hate in the Bay” march is slated to begin at noon Saturday, Sept. 23, at 63rd and Adeline streets. A progressive coalition is also planning a “Berkeley Rally Against White Supremacy” at UC Berkeley’s crescent lawn Monday, Sept. 25. The campus ACLU chapter has a number of speakers lined up throughout the week itself. Many faculty members and graduate students have also have called for a boycott of classes and university events throughout the entire Free Speech Week.

The far left group By Any Means Necessary, whose local leader if Berkeley teacher Yvette Felarca, has announced that it will be gathering every day during “Free Speech Week,” starting two hours before each planned talk.

The week-long “festival” comes on the heels of another conservative speaking engagement at UC Berkeley. The administration spent an estimated $600,000 to line the campus with police during author Ben Shapiro’s talk last week. There was little violence during the event, but mostly peaceful protesters gathered in the streets outside.

The schedule (confirmed speakers in bold):

  • Sunday, Sept. 24, noon to 1 p.m., Savio Steps, Upper Sproul Plaza, speaker Miss Elaine
  • Sunday, Sept. 24, 5-6:45 p.m., Savio Steps, Upper Sproul Plaza, speakers Lisa De Pasquale, Lucian Wintrich and Chadwick Moore
  • Monday, Sept. 25, noon to 1 p.m., Savio Steps, Upper Sproul Plaza, speaker Ariana Rowlands
  • Monday, Sept. 25, 5-7 p.m., Savio Steps, Upper Sproul Plaza, speakers SABO and Monica Crowley
  • Tuesday, Sept. 26, noon to 1 p.m., Lower Sproul Plaza, speaker Ryan Girdusky
  • Tuesday, Sept. 26, 5-7 p.m., Lower Sproul Plaza, speakers David Horowitz and Pamela Geller
  • Wednesday, Sept. 27, noon to 1 p.m., Savio Steps, Upper Sproul Plaza, speakers Stelion Onufrei, SARGOH and Mike Cernovich
  • Wednesday, Sept. 27, 5-7 p.m., Savio Steps, Upper Sproul Plaza, speakers Milo Yiannopoulos, Steve Bannon, Ann Coulter and Alex Marlow
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Natalie Orenstein

Natalie Orenstein reports on housing and homelessness for The Oaklandside. Natalie was a Berkeleyside staff reporter from early 2017 to May 2020. She had previously contributed to the site since 2012,...