University of California at Berkeley: Prohibitive Security Fee Charged for Controversial Speaker
Open discussion of Israeli-Palestinian issues can now resume unburdened at the University of California at Berkeley, which has slashed a "security fee" that would have kept a controversial speaker off campus. At Berkeley, members of the Objectivist Club of Berkeley (OCB) turned to FIRE when faced with a $3,000 security fee to host a speech by Elan Journo entitled "America's Stake in the Arab-Israeli Conflict." OCB President Dave Zornek was told by the UC Berkeley Police Department that uniformed officers would be required for the event because of the subject matter of Journo's presentation and previous tension between Israeli and Palestinian student groups. FIRE wrote Berkeley Chancellor Robert J. Birgeneau to protest the prohibitively expensive security fee, citing the Supreme Court precedent banning the act. Berkeley responded less than two weeks later, promising to use only content-neutral criteria for security. As a result, OCB was charged only about $460 for two police officers. FIRE asked Berkeley to publish its content-neutral criteria as soon as possible. The unconstitutional "heckler's veto" has once again been dealt another blow on college campuses.
- "Controversial Speakers Face Huge Security Fees at Berkeley and Colorado," March 17, 2009: Open discussion of Israeli-Palestinian issues can now resume unburdened at the University of California at Berkeley, which has slashed a "security fee" that would have kept a controversial speaker off campus. Meanwhile, students at the University of Colorado at Boulder are nervously awaiting a promised $2,200 security bill for a speech by controversial professors William Ayers and Ward Churchill. Students at both universities have turned to FIRE for help.
- "Forbidden Education Event Invoice," March 5, 2009
- "Response to FIRE from Berkeley," February 25, 2009
- "FIRE Letter to University of California at Berkeley Chancellor Robert J. Birgeneau," February 12, 2009
- "Email from Officer John Lechmanik to the Berkeley Objectivists Club," February 5, 2009
- "Four FIRE Cases on Security Fees Top Sunday’s San Francisco Chronicle," by Adam Kissel, March 31, 2009
- "Controversial Speakers Face Huge Security Fees at Berkeley and Colorado," by Adam Kissel, March 17, 2009