Berkeley Student Groups Receive $17,000 ACLU Grant to Conduct Social Justice Programming

Grant money will be used to pay for lectures on 'racial justice, immigrants' rights, LGBTQ inclusion'

UC Berkeley
Wikimedia Commons
November 29, 2017

About a dozen student associations at the University of California, Berkeley (UC Berkeley) have received a $17,000 grant from the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California (ACLU-NC) to conduct social justice programming.

The grant, larger than the initial $10,000 indicated in the ACLU-NC project launch, will be shared by the clubs to pay speakers to give campus lectures on issues like "racial justice, immigrants' rights, LGBTQ inclusion, or other equal justice issues" over the remainder of this academic year, according to the ACLU-NC.

"At a time when people are claiming free speech to mask racism and violence, we are proud to help students use their First Amendment rights to denounce bigotry and organize in support of equal justice," ACLU-NC Associate Director Christine Sun told school newspaper the Daily Californian.

Grant recipients include the UC Berkeley School of Social Welfare's Graduate Assembly; the intersectional Berkeley Journal of Gender, Law, and Justice; and CalSLAM, a spoken-word poetry group that held an anti-colonialist program ahead of Thanksgiving, which it dubbed "ThanksTaking."

A coalition of organizations affiliated with the UC Berkeley law school have jointly received an unspecified portion of the grant, and will reportedly use the money to fund a Feb. 2 symposium titled "United Against White Supremacy."

"This symposium will be a space to examine and discuss how white supremacy operates in our daily lives," according to the event description. "In particular, the symposium will convene panels addressing gentrification, affirmative action, immigration, and incarceration. These panels will provide forums to develop new ways of thinking and legal strategies to confront and dismantle white supremacy."

The groups running the program include the Berkeley Journal of African-American Law and Policy, Asian American Law Journal, Berkeley La Raza Law Journal, and Berkeley Journal of Middle Eastern and Islamic Law.

Also involved is the Berkeley chapter of the National Lawyers Guild, a left-wing collective of lawyers and law students that has supported antifa protesters without condemning their violent tactics, and was a leading advocate of convicted Palestinian terrorist Rasmea Odeh in her failed attempt to fight deportation from the United States.

The Black Graduate Engineering and Science Students, will reportedly use the money to host Harvey Mudd College mathematics professor Talithia Williams to discuss diversity and inclusion in STEM.

Other grant recipients include the Hermanos Unidos de UC Berkeley; Students of Color in Public Policy with Thinking About Power and Privilege; ASUC Environmental Council; Generation Citizen; Rising Immigrant Scholars Through Education; and the Yemeni Student Association, Daily Cal reported.

The ACLU-NC did not respond to requests for comment.

Dan Mogulof, a UC Berkeley spokesperson, said, "The university has no legal ability or right to interfere with the legal autonomy of the campus's 1,000 student organizations, which are separate legal organizations. The university does not have the legal ability to tell student organization who they can and cannot invite."

The grant comes after Berkeley faced continuous criticism for its handling of an on-campus speech by conservative Ben Shapiro, who had been invited by a Republican student club. Organizers clashed with the university over the limited number of seats made available for the event, and was slammed for offering counseling to distressed students or faculty.

Berkeley's much-touted "Free Speech Week" then fizzled, amounting to what some called a publicity stunt by the alt-right.

The school then ran into further controversy when renowned lawyer Alan Dershowitz warned he would sue the administration if he was kept from speaking on campus due to a campus policy requiring eight-week's notice to complete a security assessment for certain event. Dershowitz was allowed to speak, after the law school agreed to co-sponsor the program. His speech was then met by an anti-Semitic cartoon in the Daily Cal.

Published under: College Campuses