DePaul Opens Door To Hosting Shapiro
Following a recent ban on conservative speaker and Daily Wire Editor-in-Chief Ben Shapiro, DePaul University is reconsidering its decision.
"Given the experiences and security concerns that some other schools have had with Ben Shapiro speaking on their campuses, DePaul cannot agree to allow him to speak on our campus at this time,” DePaul’s Vice President of Facilities Operations emailed the campus’s Young Americans for Freedom (YAF) chapter little over a month ago.
Shapiro’s event was part of the Young America’s Foundation’s Fred R. Allen Lecture Series, a nationwide college tour educating students conservative thought.
But now, the University claims it will hold the door open in the future for speakers like Shapiro who, despite being “very controversial,” still have “something to say.”
“When Milo was proposed to come back again this fall, we spoke about safety concerns, but we also spoke about the content of his messages. Ben Shapiro’s, we didn’t. Ben Shapiro is very different in that regard. He is very conservative, he’s very controversial, but he has something to say,” DePaul president Rev. Dennis Holtschneider, C.M. said in an interview with DePaul’s student newspaper.
Holtschneider told the DePaulia he was hoping to begin his last academic year as DePaul president on a positive note, finding ways to improve the campus and make recommendations before he leaves. One of those measures, he said, was allowing ongoing debate on campus and letting ideas “stand up against competing ideas and seeing which ideas turn out to be stronger.”
“To do that, you need to have ideas at the table,” Holtschneider said, adding he did not think certain speakers should be banned from campus simply because of the content of their messages.
Some speakers, however, “are so devoid of actual content and they’re just meant to demean human beings and that’s their intent, or to get some kind of rise or create some kind of reaction,” Holtschneider suggested, emphasizing that while Yiannopoulos was banned for substance-less content, Shapiro was banned due to “safety” concerns.
“So this one was not about the content at all,” he said. “This one was strictly about the safety. And if you look at the statement, it said ‘at this time.’ I can imagine a time where the safety and security issues may not be at the level they’ve been at recently at Cal State or Penn State. We specifically used the words ‘at this time’ intentionally.”
"Ben Shapiro is very different in that regard. He is very conservative, he’s very controversial, but he has something to say."
DePaul president Rev. Dennis Holtschneider
YAF national spokeswoman Emily Jashinsky told the Daily Wire she is unimpressed by DePaul’s slow reversal to potentially allow Shapiro on campus.
"Reverend Holtschneider's position is that Ben cannot visit DePaul until he can trust his own liberal students not to create safety threats,” Jashinsky wrote in an email. “That is completely absurd. If DePaul's campus leftists are so hostile that Reverend Holtschneider has such salient concerns about violence against a conservative speaker who, by his own admission is a valuable thinker, his urgent priority should be attending to this threat.”
“You'll hear no applause from Young America's Foundation until DePaul makes the right decision and ceases to punish conservatives for problems created by the Left,” Jashinksy added.
Follow Pardes Seleh on Twitter.