Over 100 students staged a “Blackout” at the Associated Students Senate meeting on Wednesday, protesting the A.S. funding of a College Republicans event to host conservative speaker Ben Shapiro for a critique on the Black Lives Matter movement.
Shapiro has openly argued against the grounds of the Black Lives Matter movement in his political commentary, causing him to be banned from several university campuses in years past due to risk of protest.
The A.S. Finance and Business Committee granted $5,000 to the UCSB College Republicans to host Shapiro Monday, and the A.S. Senate approved the funding through a secret ballot Wednesday.
Anticipating a large turnout for the public forum in response to Monday’s decision, A.S. administration opted to move the Senate meeting out of the UCen Flying A Room into Corwin Pavilion. A lengthy public forum included commentary from both sides of the issue.
Eric Lendrum, a fourth-year political science major and founding chairman of Young Americans for Liberty, said the university has a reputation of upholding freedom of speech and freedom of expression. To table the event, he said, would disrupt this reputation.
“If you guys decide to table this event just because some people are offended by it, then that will set a very dangerous precedent,” he said.
Over 150 people were gathered in the building, and as each speaker took turns addressing the Senate, students stood in solidarity with those who voiced concerns against Shapiro’s visit.
Nadia Talley, the political co-chair for the Black Student Union (BSU), said white students do not have to worry about safe spaces and the Shapiro event could “incite riot and hateful speech.”
Natalie Jordan, the A.S. Internal Vice President, asked senators for consent to be filmed as part of the Senate’s live stream. Senator Jordan Mitchell asked to not be filmed.
Students from UCSB College Republicans audibly groaned, and Jordan told the students they were out of order.
One student from the group yelled out “You’re out of order!” prompting Jordan to ask that he be escorted out of the building by a CSO.
Many of the College Republicans left the meeting early after the exchange. College Republican president Andrew Gates stayed to film Mitchell, and Mitchell gathered his belongings and walked out of Corwin Pavilion. Gates and Mitchell got into a verbal argument as Mitchell exited the building.
College Republicans members and students in opposition of the Shapiro event later quarreled outside the Senate meeting shortly after public forum. Students chanted “Black People” in solidarity and others argued against using student funds for an event that would promote “anti-blackness.”
In the meantime, the A.S. Senate tabled the approval of a free speech bill, saying the legislation could come across the wrong way in light of the controversy regarding the Ben Shapiro event.
College Republicans and students opposing Ben Shapiro event get into verbal argument outside Senate meeting. pic.twitter.com/GD6LjPdAiO
— Daily Nexus (@dailynexus) November 3, 2016
College Republicans used free speech several times during the public forum as support for the Shapiro’s speaking engagement, and the Senate chose to accept the bill at a later time to avoid the appearance of siding with either group of students.
“I don’t want it to be seen as anything that it shouldn’t be seen as,” said Senator Reilly Hobson, chair of Finance and Business Committee.
The Senate went back and forth on deciding their position several times, eventually bringing the vote to a secret ballot handwritten by each senator.
“As decision makers, we can’t be speaking in hypotheticals about what somebody may say,” Jordan said to senators prior to decisionmaking. “Any decision we make has to not be based on the content itself. Let’s keep everything viewpoint neutral.”
After a six-hour meeting that culminated shortly past midnight, the A.S. Senate announced the results of the vote. Of 23 total senators, two abstained, 16 voted yes and five voted no.
Naia Al-Anbar, a third-year transfer student, was present for the entire meeting. She left shortly after the results were announced, yelling “fuck you” to the Senate as she walked out of the building.
“What went on in there was the most fucked up thing in the entire world,” she said, “Hundreds of POCs came in and begged you not to do this, and A.S. looked them all in the eye and voted no, and they couldn’t even own up to it.”
She added that there would likely be protests once a date is set for the event, and she plans to contact the local chapter of Black Lives Matter for further support.
Reporter Brandon Chen contributed research.
Nexus. Repeat. After. Me.
YOUNG AMERICANS FOR LIBERTY is not the same as YOUNG AMERICANS FOR FREEDOM
What’s the difference? Just curious.
It appears the protesters only value freedom of speech when it’s convenient or fits their ideology. Banning speakers on controversial issues sets dangerous precedent and effectively amounts to censorship.
Racism and Hate speech isn’t considered free speech and therefore isn’t protected by the first amendment
You don’t get to set the definition of hate speech.
Hate speech is, unfortunately, protected to a certain extent by the First Amendment as recently as the Snyder v. Phelps case. On the other hand, fighting words that incite violence are not protected according to Champlinsky v. New Hampshire. That being said, you can’t stop an event ahead of time in which you suspect fighting words to take place, only seek recourse once it has happened since the burden of proof for fighting words necessarily requires the ability to evaluate the words and their effect. I hate this event. I really do. But I think that the Senate made the… Read more »
Newsflash: Criticizing a movement isn’t racist. No one argues that every race deserves equal rights. Shapiro’s event criticizes how the group (a group only about 40% of Americans identify with) achieves their methods. Even if you don’t agree with him, Shapiro is NOT being hateful.
You really think Shapiro spits out hate speech? He’s one of the few straight-shooters who calls it how it is. Get over it.
By that logic, I could label everything you ever say (even before you say it!) as hate speech. This would shut you up forever. We call this fascism. It is evil. Less speech is never the answer. More speech is always the answer. If you are right, you will prevail. Are you worried you’re on the wrong side? That is the only reason to try to suppress another. Are the Young Americans trying to shut down your groups from speaking on campus by calling what they say hate speech? No, because they seem to understand freedom, whereas you want to… Read more »
How can the Nexus still not get it right? They got “Young Americans for Freedom” wrong not once, but twice in th same article, and this is on top of the previous piece about the initial F&B funding request which also got a lot of things wrong. Seems like Brandon Chen needs to find a new job.
This article isn’t even by Brandon… Looks like you get things wrong too
I don’t like Shapiro or College Republicans either but damn the opponents to this are dramatic af.
I’m proud of the senate’s decision last night to fund the event. Most of the senators, including myself, are liberal and likely don’t agree with Ben Shapiro, but we voted based on the principles of free speech and neutrality.
You can bee a liberal but still support racism.
Spouting out socially-approved hot button buzzwords like racism without any shred of evidence or fact only makes you an a$$hole. Evidence, evidence, evidence. Most of the left these days has no actual arguments, they just try to suppress everyone else by trying to defame others without evidence. Instead, the public is turning on them as they see how these people are just a$$holes trying to force their views and shut up opposing ideas.
I agree that you can be a liberal and racist. But I am confident in the ability of myself and of the senate to make the best decision based on our mission and principle, and I am confident in the integrity and moral judgment of the entire senate. making personal attacks to any senator, any student who gets 350 dollars per quarter for for about 3 times as many hours of work (and that’s a low estimate), because of a vote they made to allow funding for this event, at the recommendation of people most familiar with university and AS… Read more »
Senators make 30 cents an hour. Give them a break
Lmao sounds like the black student union is afraid of cameras again. Get ready shapiro, there’s gonna be some shenanigans going on.
Don’t understand why a movement would NOT want to be filmed… maybe because they’re made up of control freaks?
From the ACLU: “It is easy to defend freedom of speech when the message is something many people find at least reasonable. But the defense of freedom of speech is most critical when the message is one most people find repulsive. That was true when the Nazis marched in Skokie. It remains true today.”
Also from the ACLU: ” How much we value the right of free speech is put to its severest test when the speaker is someone we disagree with most. Speech that deeply offends our morality or is hostile to our way of life warrants the same constitutional protection as other speech because the right of free speech is indivisible: When one of us is denied this right, all of us are denied.”
I’m not surprised that this passed. I absolutely despise the young republicans and the YOUNG Americans for liberty/freedom/acting like insensitive assholes. You better believe that I will be there pin a black lives matter shirt protesting against shapiro’s disgusting rhetoric
And we welcome you to the event! Unlike the other side tonight, we don”t believe in violating your free speech rights because we disagree with you.
Wow, this comparison in responses shows pretty loud and clear who is on the right side. The public sees this, and extremist groups on the left are losing support for their hatred and intolerance, especially compared to the openness on the other side to hear contrary opinions.
Yes, these two people are obviously the sole representatives of their sides. So easy to see who’s ‘right’ after looking at two whole comments. Why take it farther than that?
Not sure you can name one racist thing Ben Shapiro is said. Maybe you should do some research before you protest something other people Are telling you about.
It doesn’t seem right to try to shut down a speaker just because you disagree. That’s like a heckler’s veto. The best defense against speech that you disagree with is more speech, not shutting down the other person.
Here’s what Elaine Brown, former chair of the Black Panther Party, said recently about Black Lives Matter:
“We [BPP] advocated community self-defense organizations to be formed, so that we would not be assaulted by the police, so that we would bear arms and assume our human rights,” Brown continued. “This [Black Lives Matter] to me is a plantation mentality. It smacks of ‘master, if you would just treat me right.’ And it has nothing to do with self-determination, empowerment and a sense of justice, or anything else.”
It is somewhat scary that the people that opposed Shapiro and free speech are the first people to want to ban any recording of their actions. It’s as if they want to do it in secret with no one to criticize them. Maybe they want to be able to generalize what they said or rewrite their own history later by claiming an event never happened or happened differently as there is no record. Honestly, what kind of government or student body wants their actions protected from public recording? Good on the guy who declined to stop filming. The request was… Read more »