Berkeley Encourages Counseling For Students Hurt by Ben Shapiro Speech

ashley.rae | September 11, 2017
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Ahead of Ben Shapiro’s highly-anticipated talk at the University of California, Berkeley this week, the school's executive vice chancellor and provost is encouraging students and faculty to seek out “support services” if they feel intimidated by Shapiro’s speech.

In a news release on the Berkeley website, Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Paul Alivisatos wrote about the logistics surrounding the Shapiro talk and resources the university will be making available in light of his allegedly controversial speech.

In the statement, Alivisatos claim there is a dichotomy between upholding Berkeley’s values of free speech and helping students who might feel “fear” by a speaker they don’t agree with:

Our commitment to free speech, as well as to the law, mandates that the students who invited Shapiro be able to host their event for those who wish to hear him speak. Our commitment to the principles of community mandates that all students, faculty and staff be able to be present on campus, engaging in their regular academic activities without fear. Achieving this poses unusual challenges for us; this memo lays out the arrangements that we are putting in place.

One of the arrangements Alivisatos points to on the resource guide for Shapiro’s talk happens to be services providing “Support and counseling services for students, staff and faculty.”

According to Alivisatos, Berkeley is “deeply concerned” about how speakers could affect people’s “sense of safety and belonging” on campus. Therefore, Alivisatos wrote Berkeley is encouraging students — and faculty — to seek counseling services:

We are deeply concerned about the impact some speakers may have on individuals’ sense of safety and belonging. No one should be made to feel threatened or harassed simply because of who they are or for what they believe. For that reason, the following support services are being offered and encouraged:

Student support services

Employee (faculty and staff) support services

The safety and support resources for students include mental health counseling, medical care, hate crime reporting, and law enforcement information. The “Employee Assistance” program offers no-cost counseling for employees who are dealing with issued like relationship issues and grief and loss.

Despite the Berkeley news release coming just days before Shapiro’s scheduled talk at Berkeley, and despite it explicitly mentioning Shapiro by name in the title, the assistant vice chancellor at Berkeley’s communications office told the Daily Signal they have no reason to believe Shapiro's speech may make people feel unsafe.

Dan Mogulof said, “The sentence you cite does not identify a specific speaker, and that is by design. We are not aware of anything Mr. Shapiro has said that would necessarily lead someone to fear for their safety, or question the degree to which they belong to our campus community.”

In a second response to another inquiry by the Daily Signal, Mogulof said the reference to counseling services was also made on behalf of conservative students, who allegedly said they felt unsafe because of the possibility of Antifa’s presence on campus:

In the 13 years I have been here we have not seen on this campus any violence or mayhem in support of, or opposition to any speakers other than Mr. [Milo] Yiannopoulos last February… and that, to tell you the truth, was a first for us. So, this sort of communication has not been needed previously. However, the sentence you cite was specifically formulated to address the expressed concerns of all students, including our conservative students who have told us they are worried not about the speakers headed our way but, rather, by the possibility that members of the antifa paramilitary group will return to the campus. I can assure you that if, in the future, we hear concerns in advance of ANY other speaker coming our way we will issue a similar communication. We care for our students without regard for their beliefs.

So there you have it: conservatives’ real concerns about violence on campus are somehow able to be rectified by seeking counseling, just like someone whose feelings are hurt by Shapiro’s mere presence.

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