UC Berkeley Now Says It Will Host Conservative Speaker Ben Shapiro

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Ben Shapiro speaking in Pasadena. (Gage Skidmore)

UC Berkeley officials said Thursday they will now find a venue for controversial conservative writer Ben Shapiro to speak on Sept. 14.

In an email exchange obtained by KQED between UC Berkeley's Division of Student Affairs and the Berkeley College Republicans (BCR), Cal officials Tuesday initially said they “were unable to find an available campus venue” where Shapiro could speak that met the student group's stated criteria. On Wednesday, UC Berkeley officials added that they were willing to look into the availability of campus buildings that require a rental fee.

BCR did not immediately respond to UC Berkeley’s email, but on Wednesday they put out a press release with the Young America’s Foundation that said, “Berkeley blocks Ben Shapiro.”

Since then, UC Berkeley decided to look into alternative venues for Shapiro’s appearance.

“We decided not to wait for their response, so we went ahead and checked on those venues regardless,” campus spokesman Dan Mogulof said Thursday in an interview with KQED. “And we’ve determined that there are other venues available.”

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Mogulof added that the university will help underwrite the cost of a venue that requires a rental fee.

California Republican Party leader Harmeet Dhillon -- also a member of the Republican National Committee and a lawyer representing the Berkeley College Republicans in a lawsuit against UC Berkeley -- told KQED Thursday that she and the student members of BCR were not notified by the university that Shapiro will be able to speak, but that they found out through KQED.

“I really only wish the university would just communicate with us directly rather than leaking emails to the press and doing it in the media,” Dhillon said. “That’s just not productive.”

On Twitter Thursday, Shapiro echoed Dhillon’s sentiment, saying, “Neither I nor YAF have heard from Berkeley, nor have College Republicans.”

“Let’s hope Berkeley keeps their word,” he added.

Shapiro is the latest in a series of controversial right-wing speakers to be invited to Berkeley’s campus.

In April, BCR invited Ann Coulter to speak, but campus officials refused to host her, citing safety concerns.

In February, a scheduled appearance by Milo Yiannopoulos was canceled after protests broke out outside where he was supposed to speak.

Shapiro is a former Breitbart News editor, who now heads up DailyWire.com, an online right-wing publication. He has come under fire in the past for controversial statements regarding the Black Lives Matter movement.