Berkeley “Free Speech Week,” an event organized by student group the Berkeley Patriot and underwritten by MILO Inc., will occur as scheduled, running from September 24 to September 27 on the campus of UC Berkeley, despite attempts by the university to use bureaucratic maneuvers and strategic media leaks to disrupt the event and dissuade headline speakers from attending.
The paperwork was filed on deadline, and MILO, Inc. transferred the required $65,758.76 to UC Berkeley to arrive at 8 AM ET Monday. Nevertheless, the University has not yet indicated it will grant access to Wheeler and Zellerbach. This move represents the latest in a stream of administrative efforts by UC Berkeley officials to shut down or damage Free Speech Week.
A paper trail of dozens of emails (available to journalists upon request) shows that questions about security, refunds, and insurance policies from the student group were ignored by the administration of UC Berkeley for more than three weeks.
“On the advice of our attorney, we had asked the University to amend the contracts for Wheeler and Zellerbach to provide for a partial refund if the University cancelled the event,” said a member of the Berkeley Patriot familiar with the situation. “Given the University’s history of cancelling conservative events, this was an entirely reasonable request, but they evaded our question for weeks.
“When the University’s Interim Vice Chancellor finally did email us a contract at 3:30PM ET last Friday, the contract lacked the refund provision entirely. Instead it came with a 90-minute deadline that we had to sign and pay $65,000 that day. We signed and returned it immediately, but the Interim Vice Chancellor refused to accept it anyway.”
“It’s quite simple: The University didn’t want the event to happen, but they couldn’t cancel outright, so they needed to make it look like it was our own fault,” said Pranav Jandhyala, News Editor for the Berkeley Patriot. “What we’ve experienced throughout this entire four months has been bureaucratic stonewalling.
While the administrators were ignoring over 20 calls and emails from the student group between Wednesday and Friday of last week, they were making calls to journalists, attempting to sow fear, uncertainty and doubt about whether Free Speech Week would proceed. UC Berkeley spokesperson Dan Mogulof told the Los Angeles Times that the Berkeley Patriots had not filed the appropriate paperwork and maliciously hinted that the entire event might be cancelled, in a story published hours before the university’s abrupt and arbitrary deadline.
The University’s attempt to deny the Berkeley Patriot access to Wheeler and Zellerbach is not the only bureaucratic obstacle the University has thrown in front of the event. Earlier this month, UC Berkeley spokesperson Dan Mogulof leaked a preliminary speaker list, which included author Ann Coulter and former chief strategist to the President Stephen K Bannon, to the Chronicle of Higher Education.
“The most charitable explanation is that UC Berkeley was trying to drum up opposition to the event. Actually, the university deliberately gave a heads-up to domestic terrorist organizations like Antifa, which got a month-long head start on Berkeley police,” said MILO.
According to students, the Interim Vice Chancellor earlier rescinded at the last minute an agreement with the Berkeley Patriot regarding the number of security applications required for the event. When it first booked Free Speech Week, the Berkeley Patriot had been told that only one security application was required, but Sutton altered the deal, informing the students they needed to file 12 separate security applications and criticizing them for not having done so already.
The University also waited until the last possible moment before informing the Berkeley Patriot that its insurance would not cover the event, forcing the student group to get a certificate of insurance from the event’s underwriter on short notice.
“Since it got sued last year for restricting its students’ free speech rights, Berkeley has been trying to virtue signal its support for free speech by hosting establishment-friendly conservatives like Ben Shapiro, even giving them massive discounts on fees,” said Milo Yiannopoulos, founder and Chief Creative Officer of MILO Inc. “But we represent the true frontier of free speech, and when it comes to genuine free expression UC Berkeley is terrified of leftist violence that the university has either quietly ignored or actively cultivated for years. Antifa thugs cannot be allowed to censor free expression, so we are going to Berkeley, and Free Speech Week is happening, whether they like it or not.”