UC Berkeley is in the midst of celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Free Speech Movement, congratulating itself for birthing the cause with innocuous lectures, progressive poetry slams, reunions, nostalgic film screenings, and a rally that looked like an Occupy Wall Street throwback party.
Noticeably absent from its calendar of events is any mention of how the campus has cracked down on free speech in recent years.
Thankfully, the Berkeley College Republicans stepped up to shine a big, bright spotlight on all the hypocrisy.
On Friday, the conservative students stood at Sproul Hall with a huge banner that read “Free Speech [does not equal] Comfortable Speech.” They also handed out fliers to their peers which highlighted all the recent times in which the school’s student government acted more like the defenders of politically correct speech rather than the defenders of free speech.
In November 2013, the campus approved a student bill banning the term “illegal alien” from campus discourse, and two months prior had condemned a fraternity for “appropriating the culture” of Mexican-Americans with a quinceanera-themed party (never mind that it was Latino students who thought up the the fiesta’s theme).
In December 2012, the Berkeley student government kicked the Salvation Army off campus, saying the charity is hostile and uncomfortable, and in September 2011, it passed a bill condemning disrespectful speech. That had been prompted by the Berkeley College Republicans’ “Diversity Bake Sale,” for which the student government had also attempted to have the student group defunded.
These are examples from the flier the Berkeley College Republicans handed out Friday to hundreds of students.
“In the 1960s, students broke out from within the constraints of the status quo. They said the things parents and professors and peers were telling them not to,” wrote Berkeley College Republicans President Claire Chiara in an opinion column for The College Fix, which detailed the group’s protest. “Today, and especially on the Berkeley campus, conservative students are the ones taking a stand, and yet we’re maligned and ostracized for it.”
Enter the new campus radicals–College Republicans.