UC Berkeley Offers Counseling Services to Those Upset By Shapiro Speech

Ben Shapiro at Politicon 2017, Pasadena, Calif. / Getty Images
Ben Shapiro at Politicon 2017, Pasadena, Calif. / Getty Images
September 8, 2017

The University of California-Berkeley is offering counseling to any students or faculty upset by conservative pundit Ben Shapiro's upcoming campus speech.

Shapiro, the Daily Wire's editor in chief,  is set to speak on campus next Thursday at an event sponsored by the Young America's Foundation and College Republicans. In preparation for the event, the university sent out a campus-wide email Thursday to students and faculty, the Daily Wire reported. In the email, the Berkeley administration announced a number of "logistics and security arrangements."

Arrangements included a promise to provide "support and counseling services for students, staff, and faculty."

"We are deeply concerned about the impact some speakers may have on individuals' sense of safety and belonging," the letter read. "No one should be made to feel threatened or harassed simply because of who they are or for what they believe. For that reason, [support services] are being offered and encouraged."

Shapiro's views are "mainstream conservative," according to the Daily Wire. He has repeatedly condemned alt-right and white supremacist groups, and is a fierce proponent of free speech.

The controversy over Shapiro's speech follows a string of clashes in Berkeley, and continued debate over campus speech.  In February, demonstrators rioted in anticipation of a campus speech from alt-right activist Milo Yiannopoulos. Rioters caused widespread property damage to the Berkeley community and attacked Yiannopoulos' supporters. Only one person was arrested. In August, a peaceful protest turned violent at a park west of campus after "antifa" demonstrators showed up to protest President Donald Trump supporters and organizers. The group skirted police barricades and a security check intended to remove any possible weapons.

Berkeley initially attempted to block Shapiro entirely from speaking on campus. The school eventually relented, but later "slashed" the number of seats available, and required organizers to pay nearly $10,000 in security fees.

Shapiro spoke at Berkeley without incident in April 2016.