On April 21, 2017, The New Guard detailed the Young America’s Foundation’ efforts to further the free speech movement. In the piece titled “YAF to Berkeley: Honor First Amendment or Face Litigation,” Spencer Brown, YAF’s Communications Director, put the liberal UC Berkeley on notice for banning Ann Coulter from speaking at an event there. According to the piece, a letter sent to Vice Chancellor Stephen Sutton made clear the intentions to protect free speech at all costs.
“…Respect students’ rights by ensuring that Ann Coulter is allowed to speak on campus April 27 or relief will be sought in federal court, including claims for injunctive relief and damages.”
Over the past few weeks, growing tension at Berkeley over Coulter’s event has spilled into mainstream media outlets and even found itself on the Drudge Report. Ann Coulter is set to speak at the university on the 27th, but since the announcement, the university has taken several steps to delegitimize and postpone the event. Over the course of this past week, campus officials attempted to place additional constraints on the event and requested dates be changed to May 2nd in the afternoon. According to Dan Mogulof, a Berkeley spokesman, the campus has taken these measures to ensure security. The Washington Post reports Mogulof stated: “Holding the event later in the day would risk protests and potential violence stretching into the evening when the campus tends to get crowded with commuters and students.” Then, the spokesman went on to make this bold statement:
“…It’s hard to understand this display of disdain and disregard for the assessment of law enforcement professionals, particularly when their primary concern is the safety and well-being of college students.”
Ironically, Berkeley is admitting their own failures to operate as an educational forum. Over the past several months, UC Berkeley has been a hub of protests, but more specifically an epicenter for riots. These violent events lead to vandalism and uncontrollable situations through a visibly apathetic and non-reactionary police force. A young woman was pepper sprayed and individuals carried banners saying “This Is War”. The cumulation of these events leads conservative students to question their safety on campus. Additionally, this puts Berkeley as the top university in a laundry list of colleges that have made little to no effort to protect the first amendment and intellectual diversity.