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By Rob Shimshock
The University of California, Berkeley said Thursday that it will host and pay for Ben Shapiro on Sept. 14 after saying it could not do so Tuesday, a statement which was met with accusations of censorship.
UC Berkeley said it will host the conservative author after he and Young America’s Foundation (YAF), the organization sponsoring Shapiro, accused the university of censorship, according to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE). The Daily Caller News Foundation obtained an email chain between the school and the Berkeley College Republicans in which the availability of a 500-person room on September 14 appears to be the main source of contention between the two parties. (RELATED: Cal Berkeley Blocks ANOTHER Conservative Speaker)
“We didn’t have any options in terms of the spaces available free of charge,” said Dan Mogulof, assistant vice chancellor for public affairs at Berkeley, to FIRE. “Because of the extent of our commitment to free speech, the campus will help fund any fees associated with hosting this event if need be.”
“Young America’s Foundation was pleased to learn from the Washington Post that the University of California, Berkeley may have a room available for Ben Shapiro to speak on September 14,” said Spencer Brown, spokesman for YAF, in a press release obtained by The Daily Caller News Foundation. “We hope to hear directly from Berkeley administrators soon to learn more about their plans to allow Ben Shapiro to speak as reported in the Washington Post.”
Mogulof explained that while the Berkeley College Republicans originally stipulated a 500-person venue for an event, the organization asked about venues that seated fewer people when told no 500-person locations were available September 14, while speaking with TheDCNF.
“When it comes to event planning we work directly with our student organizations,” said the assistant vice chancellor to TheDCNF, responding to YAF’s press release. “As you can see we’re inviting Mr. Shapiro’s group to join. We never received a request from YAF to be a part of the discussion and if they are interested they should submit that request to be involved.”
Mogulof denied YAF’s assertion that the university was blocking the Berkeley College Republicans from hosting the conservative author.
“We have about 6 or 7 venues of that size and about half of them are on the list for students to use free-of-charge,” said the assistant vice chancellor, noting that September 14 fell in a “high-demand time” for venues. “We’re going to make it work and we also wanted to make it work and we made that clear in our very first communications, so any suggestion that the university somehow didn’t want Shapiro to come is a misrepresentation.”
TheDCNF reached out to the Berkeley College Republicans and YAF for comment or additional remarks, but received none in time for press.