Students at UC Berkeley Sign Petition in Attempt to Oust Bill Maher A Change.com petition was signed by about 2,923 students by students at the University of California, Berkeley on Monday. The petition was started by Marium Navid, a member of the student government group Associated Students at the University of California. The petition was created and passed around in an attempt to oust TV host Bill Maher from his position as commencement speaker in December. Maher has notably made some rather controversial and insensitive comments about Islam in recent weeks. His comments have sparked debates and angered those that practice Islam along with many that don’t. The petition reads as follows: “Bill Maher is a blatant bigot and racist who has no respect for the values UC Berkeley students and administration stand for. In a time where climate is a priority for all on campus, we cannot invite an individual who himself perpetuates a dangerous learning environment. Bill Maher’s public statements on various religions and cultures are offensive and dangerous rhetoric has found its way into our campus communities.” Navid went on to tell the San Jose Mercury News, “People say he has the right to freedom of speech, and I agree with that. The problem is that when you bring him to the university, you’re pretty much putting him into a privileged position. You’re raising his voice.” Students have been urged to contact UC Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks as well as external relations director, Helena Weiss-Duman in addition to signing the petition. To prove how seriously students and the Islam community at UC Berkeley feel about Maher’s impending commencement speech and his negative comments against Islam, Navid began a campaign aptly named, “Free Speech, Not Hate Speech.” So far the university hasn’t issued a response and school officials haven’t been reachable by the various media outlets that have attempted contact.