Photo Credits: KIYOMI WATSON / AGGIE
College Democrats upset they can’t protest it
In this series of investigative pieces, The California Aggie investigates how the COVID-19 crisis has affected individual lives in our community.
“This is a violation of free speech, you know.”
Benson Rickman sinks into his chair. “This whole…” he gestures, “coronavirus thing.”
Rickman is the executive chair of the Davis College Republicans (DCR). Our interview takes place in his second-story apartment on F Street.
Prior to the outbreak of COVID-19, DCR had potential plans for hosting numerous controversial speakers on campus. Today, all these speakers have canceled their plans to speak at UC Davis.
“We usually go for politically radical speakers,” Rickman explains, “but we even had some openly racist ones planned this year.” He shakes his head. “It’s a real shame.”
Among other names floated to speak at UC Davis — Ann Coulter, Ben Shapiro, a racist uncle — there was even an explicit speaking offer from Sean Spicer, the former press secretary for the Trump Administration.
“I even had posters made for him,” Rickman said. He opens his phone to show me a picture of Sean Spicer photoshopped onto the movie poster for “Spice World.”
“I was super excited. We were going to rent out the ARC Ballroom, and he was going to talk down to us for 90 minutes,” he sighs dreamily. “Maybe he’d even get angry and end the whole thing early, like he would on TV.”
Rickman stands up from the table. “Here, let me show you something,” he says as he pulls out a scrapbook. He shows me some of the photos he’s taken with past speakers. In one, he and Martin Shkreli are laughing at people in the prescription aisle. A more recent photo shows him and white nationalist Richard Spencer running from a mob of minorities. The caption reads “best friends 4 eva,” written in glitter.
“Wow,” I say. “Did you get any pictures from this year?”
He shrugs. “I got one with Rebecca Friedrichs last quarter, but…” he shifts in his seat, “it’s not the same.”
“We tried to get other speakers to come to Davis, but the COVID-19 outbreak basically ruined everything. Our speakers backed out.” He hands me a list from his club-planning folder:
Other Potential Speakers
“Ann Coulter? Too expensive.
Ghost of Ronald Reagan Séance failed. Also, he doesn’t like Zoom calls.
Ghost of Rupert Murdoch Not dead yet.
Joe Biden during the ’70s I have been informed it is no longer the ’70s.
“Y’know, I don’t even miss the speaking events, really. I miss the connections. I miss the people, y’know?” I nod. He continues.
“I miss the…” he chokes up. “I miss the Davis College Democrats, y’know?”
“We had a good thing going with them. We would protest their events, they would protest our events — it was fun.”
“Everytime we invited a controversial speaker, they never missed it.” A tear rolls down his face. “They were always there for us.”
He gets up and stares out his window. “I don’t know what I’d do if something happened to them during this crisis.”
A handful of pebbles hits his window and it startles us both. He gets up to investigate and gasps.
Outside the window stands Brandy Pitch, the president of the Davis College Democrats. She holds a sign that says “___________ is bad for Davis,” with the name of the speaker not yet filled in.
Rickman sheds a single tear. “You came,” he chokes out.
She smiles. “I never left.”
Written by: Matthew Simons — firstname.lastname@example.org
(This article is humor and/or satire, and its content is purely fictional. The story and the names of “sources” are fictionalized.)