Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Civil Berkeley

From Inside Higher Ed: Last year, the University of California, Berkeley, campus literally erupted in flames as a planned speech by conservative provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos devolved into violence: stones and fireworks were hurled at police, windows were shattered, riots turned injurious. Though the destruction then came from off-campus groups, for the next few months, highly public battles around free expression were waged at the birthplace of the Free Speech Movement.

...But more than a year later, the Berkeley campus is seemingly free of such drama. It has hosted controversial right-wing figures such as TurningPoint USA leaders Charlie Kirk and Candace Owens, commentator Heather Mac Donald and talk-radio host Dennis Prager with little incident. Students and administrators credit the change in part to the intent of the speakers coming to the university: not to rile up the student body, but instead to engage in discussion. The speakers voiced conservative views but did not insult Berkeley students or groups of students, as others had previously.

This follows two shifts on campus. Most recently, the university’s free speech policies were revised, after being vetted by a university commission. And new student groups were founded intent on promoting “civil dialogue”... 

The main change in the rules (on an interim basis) is designed to cut down on potential disruptions. The West Crescent area of the Berkeley campus will essentially serve as a space where large-scale protests can be held at any time. It is now exempt from the institution’s major events policy, which requires advance notice to plan events, among other stipulations...

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