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Protesters cause UC Berkeley to pay the 'substantial cost' of Free Speech Week

Campus
Conservative speaker Milo Yiannopoulos is on the schedule for Berkeley's Free Speech Week, which is incurring high security costs due to protests. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Free Speech Week is causing a lot of issues for the University of California at Berkeley, and costing a lot of money -- the security bill for Ben Shapiro's speech last week totaled about $600,000.

All because students and outside protesters find conservative speakers so appalling that they must be disrupted, apparently at all cost.

Janet Napolitano, the president of the University of California system, said the UC System will reimburse Berkeley for half of the security costs.

That arrangement is going to add up, big time. With some of the most controversial conservative personalities in media today set to come on campus, the school could be facing even larger protests than the one for Shapiro. There are a lot of liberals out there ready to protest Steve Bannon and Milo Yiannopoulos.

Deliberate provocation?

While Napolitano recognized the need to allow free speech on campus, she didn't exactly speak favorably about the speakers who are coming.

"I think some of these speakers are coming deliberately to provoke, and I think to provoke a response," she said. "But nonetheless they’re coming to speak, they’re coming to put forward controversial and noxious ideas, and, you know, colleges and universities are places where noxious ideas are expressed.

"So how you carry that out, protect that value — that’s the challenge that we face," Napolitano said. "That’s why I think it’s important that if these events are going to occur, that they be done safely and securely and, I think unfortunately that means universities bear the cost."

This writer's perspective

Let's think this through. Who is actually causing the costs here? It's not the speakers. It's the people who can't react civilly to those speakers.

You don't get to cancel freedom of speech. Napolitano admits that, albeit begrudgingly. So instead of worrying about whether or not the speakers are trying to provoke protests, it would be more productive to address the students, and tell them to act like adults.

The same students who are causing the need for $600,000 worth of security are probably the same ones who will be complaining about tuition increases down the road. If they can't handle the trauma of being exposed to conservative perspectives they find off-putting, they should probably stay home and save their school some money.

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