University of California, Berkeley Responds to Student Petition to Oust Bill Maher

The University of California, Berkeley has decided to stand behind the decision to have Bill Maher as December’s commencement speaker even after last week’s student led petition to remove him.

A letter was released by the “Californians”, a committee formed by individuals at the university stating that they were rescinding the invitation to Maher. The meeting to make this decision did not include any members of the administration, which led the the following statement by university officials:

“The UC Berkeley administration cannot and will not accept this decision, which appears to have been based solely on Mr. Maher’s opinions and beliefs, which he conveyed through constitutionally protected speech.”

The petition that was launched by the Middle Eastern, Muslim and South Asians Coalition garnered 4,858 signatures so far along with some strong feelings from the students leader responsible for the petition. One student even refers to Maher as “a blatant bigot and racist.”

The UC Berkeley officials had one last thing to say about the controversy surrounding the impending commencement stating, “It should be noted that this decision does not constitute an endorsement of any of Mr. Maher’s prior statements: indeed, the administration’s position on Mr. Maher’s opinions and perspectives is irrelevant in this context, since we fully respect and support his right to express them. More broadly, this university has not in the past and will not in the future shy away from hosting speakers who some deem provocative.”

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