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UC Berkeley Officials Rekindle Free Speech Debate With New Policy For Speaker Events

BERKELEY (CBS SF) -- UC Berkeley officials on Thursday discussed plans to roll out a new policy for student groups inviting speakers for campus events.

In February, the campus canceled former Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopoulous's talk when protests turned violent. Two months later, pundit Ann Coulter was turned away because the campus said it could not guarantee her safety.

The university recently canceled a planned speaking engagement with conservative commentator Ben Shapiro.

But according to UC officials, Shapiro's views have nothing to do with why Cal denied the initial request to bring him to campus in September.

"We want Ben Shaprio to come to Berkeley," said UC Berkeley spokesman Dan Mogulof.

Berkeley College Republicans claim school officials are blocking Shapiro from campus -- calling the university "anti-free speech" -- after violence and threats of violence stopped conservative commentators Yiannopoulos and Ann Coulter from speaking on campus.

"It is complete nonsense," said Mogulof. "This campus has held dozens of events from speakers from the conservative and libertarian movements over the years without incident."

In newly released emails, Students Affairs tells the College Republicans that it can't identify an "available venue" for 500 people on September 14, but the emails go on to say the university wants to work with the group to come up with options.

The university also says all student groups have to now follow new speaker rules:

  • Requests must be made 8 weeks prior to major events.
  • Groups must submit publicity materials to an adviser at least five weeks before the event.
  • Groups may need to meet with UC Police for a security assessment six weeks before the event.

Mogulof said the university welcome the chance to work with the student group to make the proposed event with Shapiro happen.

"So come! Let's sit down. Let's get the ball rolling," said Mogulof. "That hasn't happened yet."

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