Berkeley Forum

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The Berkeley Forum
Berkeley Forum logo.png
The logo of the Berkeley Forum
Motto Debates, panels, and talks at the University of California, Berkeley
Formation 2012
Type Student organization
Pierre Bourbonnais
ASUC, Haas School of Business

The Berkeley Forum, commonly referred to simply as "the Forum", is a student organization at the University of California, Berkeley, founded in 2012. It is a non-partisan organization that hosts debates, panels, and talks with distinguished speakers on various topics. The Forum is modeled after similar organizations at other prestigious universities, like the Oxford Union, the Cambridge Union Society, the Yale Political Union, and the John F. Kennedy Jr. Forum.[1][2][3] The Forum's events typically feature speeches by the speakers, followed by question and answer sessions with the audience. Tickets for UC Berkeley students, faculty, and staff are always free, while tickets for the general public are free or are available for a small fee.[4]

Notable past events[edit]

The Berkeley Forum's first event was a panel debate on the federal fiscal crisis, held in March 2013. The panel featured former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich, policy director of the 2012 Romney presidential campaign Lanhee Chen, and the Dean of the Goldman School of Public Policy Henry Brady.[1]

In November 2013, the Forum hosted Creative Commons co-founder and American academic and political activist, Lawrence Lessig. Lessig discussed the role of money in politics, in a speech entitled "Corrupting the Vote."[5] The Forum's largest and most noteworthy event to date was a speech given by Kentucky Senator Rand Paul on March 19, 2014. Senator Paul talked about the issue of government surveillance programs, like that of the NSA.[6][7][8][9][10][11] The event was held at Chevron Auditorium at Berkeley's International House with approximately 400 people in attendance.[12] Notable attendees include former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich and Lieutenant Governor of California Gavin Newsom.[13] The next day, the event was featured on the front page of The New York Times.[14][15] In March 2014, the Berkeley Forum also hosted former US Secretary of Energy and Nobel Laureate Steven Chu. Chu spoke about sustainable energy options.[16]

On November 14, 2014, the Berkeley Forum hosted Oakland mayor Jean Quan. Quan spoke about local government and inequality in American cities.[17] Then, on December 10, the Forum hosted American entrepreneur and venture capitalist, Peter Thiel. The event was interrupted by protesters.[18][19][20]

Advisory committee[edit]

While the Berkeley Forum is a student-run organization, it is supported by a faculty advisory committee, which consists of the following professors:[21]



  1. ^ a b "Robert Reich, former Romney campaign policy director debate federal budget on campus". The Daily Californian. Retrieved May 21, 2014. 
  2. ^ "History". The Berkeley Forum. Retrieved December 26, 2014. 
  3. ^ "This UC Berkeley Student Is Running The Most Elaborate Student Body Presidential Campaign". BuzzFeed. Retrieved May 21, 2014. 
  4. ^ "About Us". The Berkeley Forum. Retrieved May 21, 2014. 
  5. ^ "Berkeley Forum hosts Lawrence Lessig talk on money in politics". The Daily Californian. Retrieved May 21, 2014. 
  6. ^ "Republican Rand Paul fires up a Berkeley crowd". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved May 21, 2014. 
  7. ^ "Rand Paul: GOP like bad pizza crust". CNN. Retrieved May 21, 2014. 
  8. ^ "Bluffed, Baffled and Bewildered: How Rand Paul Bilked Berkeley". The Huffington Post. Retrieved May 21, 2014. 
  9. ^ "Rand Paul Criticizes Obama, Others Over Spying". Associated Press. Retrieved May 21, 2014. 
  10. ^ "Sen. Rand Paul takes his anti-spying message to UC Berkeley". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved May 21, 2014. 
  11. ^ "Rand Paul rebukes Obama over spying in Berkeley speech". Fox News. Retrieved May 21, 2014. 
  12. ^ "Rand Paul discusses domestic spying and privacy rights at Berkeley Forum event". The Daily Californian. Retrieved May 21, 2014. 
  13. ^ "Rand Paul, Republican presidential hopeful, finds support in Berkeley, of all places". Mercury News. Retrieved May 21, 2014. 
  14. ^ "Guest Blog: The Story of One of the Best Decisions of My Life". UC Berkeley Office of Undergraduate Admissions. Retrieved May 21, 2014. 
  15. ^ "Rand Paul, Warning About Spying, Faults Obama". The New York Times. Retrieved May 21, 2014. 
  16. ^ "Steven Chu, former US Secretary of Energy, discusses sustainable energy options". The Daily Californian. Retrieved May 21, 2014. 
  17. ^ "An Address by Jean Quan". The Berkeley Forum. Retrieved December 26, 2014. 
  18. ^ "Billionaire Investor Peter Thiel Chased Off Stage By Angry Protesters At UC Berkeley". Business Insider. Retrieved December 26, 2014. 
  19. ^ "A little too much disruption for Peter Thiel, Silicon Valley's iconoclast-in-chief". Fortune. Retrieved December 26, 2014. 
  20. ^ "A Statement Regarding the Peter Thiel Address". The Berkeley Forum. Retrieved December 26, 2014. 
  21. ^ "Advisory Committee". The Berkeley Forum. Retrieved May 21, 2014.