It’s a quarter past three on a sunny spring Thursday in Berkeley. After weeks of rain, People’s Park is bursting with life: a sea of yellow, purple, and red flowers pours from the gardens on the west side of the 2.8-acre park, while the occasional gust of wind carries the scent of jasmine. People occupy nearly every available picnic table and bench, shedding jackets with gusto; a dozen more bodies sprawl out on the park’s main lawn. A couple of men play conga drums at the curb between the basketball court and the mural-covered bathroom.
It started with a conversation. About two years ago, Claudia von Vacano, executive director of UC Berkeley’s social science D-Lab, had a chat with Brittan Heller, the then-director of technology and society for the Anti-Defamation League (ADL). The topic: the harassment of Jewish journalists on Twitter. Heller wanted to kick the offending trolls off the platform, and Vacano, an expert in digital research, learning, and language acquisition, wanted to develop the tools to do it. Both understood that neither humans nor computers alone were sufficient to root out the offending language.
Posted on December 18, 2018 - 6:04pm
With a wide smile and a penchant for laughter, Pulitzer-prize winning journalist Geeta Anand is hardly as intimidating in person as she seems on paper. From her start at Cape Cod News, a free weekly newspaper, she’s gone on to cover everything from local courts and cops, to biotechnology and business, to foreign correspondence in South Asia, most recently for The New York Times. Her 2006 book The Cure: How a Father Raised $100 Million—and Bucked the Medical Establishment—in a Quest to Save His Children, was turned into a CBS movie starring Harrison Ford.
Posted on December 17, 2018 - 3:22pm
You might not expect the mayor of Berkeley to show up for a meeting in dad jeans and running shoes. Or to be just 33 years old and living in a rented apartment with two roommates. Or to engage a reporter in a freewheeling discussion on some of the most controversial topics of the day without an aide or PR flack in attendance. But then again, Berkeley wasn’t expecting Jesse Arreguín ’07, who swept into office in 2016 in an upset victory over Councilman Laurie Capitelli, who had been endorsed by former Mayor Tom Bates.
There appears to be a consensus among UC Berkeley law professors that despite his offensive views, alt-right provocateur Milo Yiannopoulous had a legal right to speak on campus last September.
Posted on January 18, 2018 - 4:54pm
When you check out the table of contents for this iteration of CALIFORNIA you might be surprised by the many entries listed in the feature well. Generally speaking, the well is where we offer up several long-form stories off the theme of the magazine. The number of stories and bylines this time around doesn’t mean we’ve exceeded our usual page count, or eliminated all the other departments. It just means we are offering one very long story and some very short ones.
In September, the university went to extraordinary lengths to support our commitments to free speech and the safety of our campus community. On September 14, at the invitation of the Berkeley College Republicans, the conservative speaker Ben Shapiro addressed an audience at Zellerbach Hall. His speech was not interrupted, and protests outside the hall were peaceful.
If the past year has taught us anything about free speech at UC Berkeley, it’s that it comes with a price—and the university has to pay. In February, the damage reaped upon university property by the black bloc protests of Milo Yiannopoulos’ speech cost the university $100,000.
Posted on November 16, 2017 - 5:10pm
UC Berkeley played host to myriad free speech controversies this year—including violent Antifa protests of conservative pundit Milo Yiannopoulos and a proposed faculty boycott of classes during Free Speech Week—much of it predicated on the assumption that speech is harmful.
Posted on November 6, 2017 - 2:20pm
Former Breitbart commentator Milo Yiannopoulos spoke on the UC Berkeley campus yesterday, but I didn’t get to see it—and neither did most of the hundreds who showed up to see his speech.
In the end, it seems the provocative and flamboyant Yiannopoulos spoke for less than a half hour, without a microphone, sang the national anthem, took a few photos with his fans, then bailed.
Posted on September 26, 2017 - 9:18am
On Wednesday afternoon a letter was emailed to all UC Berkeley faculty, encouraging them to boycott all classes and campus activities from September 24th to the 27th—the dates in which Milo Yiannopoulos, Ann Coulter, and Stephen K. Bannon have been invited by a small, conservative student publication called the Berkeley Patriot to speak on campus.
Posted on September 14, 2017 - 9:54am
On a late morning in July, 17 days after formally beginning work as Berkeley’s 11th chancellor, Carol Tecla Christ sat in her sunlit office in California Hall, reflecting on the meaning of her new job title. “It’s essentially a representational role,” she said. “As the chancellor, you’re the storyteller-in-chief.”
Five questions for Dan Siegel, famous as an articulate firebrand on the UC Berkeley campus during the heady 1960s. He is now 71 and is a civil rights attorney in Oakland. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Posted on May 24, 2017 - 1:11pm
Is it a simple free speech issue or something far darker and conspiratorial? In either case, Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopoulos is surfing the wave of his notoriety like Laird Hamilton carving down a fifty-foot face at Jaws in Maui.
Posted on February 7, 2017 - 5:11pm
Far-right provocateur and Breitbart News Technology Editor Milo Yiannopoulos has prospered mightily by posting screeds that his many detractors characterize as racist and misogynistic; so popular is his invective with a certain political subset that Simon & Schuster recently handed him a $250,000 book deal.
Posted on January 26, 2017 - 5:29pm