There comes a time in every society where even its most basic values come under attack. In the United States, since the beginning of our country’s founding, we have had certain God-given unalienable rights: freedom of religion, freedom of the press, freedom of assembly, due process and freedom of speech, among them. Today on American college campuses the value most important to ensure a strong, diverse education, freedom of speech, is under attack.
Last week, DePaul University informed the DePaul Young Americans for Freedom chapter (of which I am Vice Chairman) that they plan to partake in this attack. DePaul University has banned conservative commentator Ben Shapiro from appearing on campus. Mr. Shapiro’s strong defense of the Constitution and conservative values is apparently too much for the University and its students to handle.
Bob Janis, Vice President of Facilities Operations at DePaul, in an email to the DePaul YAF chapter’s executive board, said, "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.”
Frankly, this is an embarrassment for DePaul.
In a statement, Young America’s Foundation said:
For the past six months we have worked with Ben on a high-profile tour of college campuses and witnessed with our own eyes the vicious and threatening behavior of tyrannical leftists who have been programmed by progressive administrators to silence all speech they disagree with—If DePaul cannot trust its delicate liberal snowflake students and administrators to allow Ben to speak his mind safely and freely, it has utterly failed in its mission to "[foster] a community that welcomes open discourse." Make no mistake, any security concerns we face on campuses are 100 percent incited by the censorious, intolerant Left. DePaul should publicly thank its Young Americans for Freedom chapter for boldly doing the school's job of providing "exposure to differing points of view" for it and allow Ben to speak, not begrudgingly, but happily. It's incumbent upon the intolerant Left, not hardworking YAF students, to allow conservatives to express their viewpoints without fearing for their safety. Thankfully, Ben, and YAF activists across the country, believe deeply enough in free speech to fight for their values, even as the Left attempts to intimidate them from even speaking.
If DePaul does not reverse its decision to ban Ben, it must immediately remove any claim to support free speech and expression from its website and marketing materials or become a fraudulent laughingstock.
Further, after DePaul recently banned media-personality Milo Yiannopoulos from returning to campus as part of a College Republicans event, Vice President of Student Affairs Gene Zdziarski explained, “DePaul will continue to work with student organizations to sponsor events and speakers representing a broad range of opinions on the issues of the day.”
Apparently, Zdziarski had no intention of keeping that promise.
Regarding DePaul’s ban, Shapiro asserted, “It's both pathetic and predictable that the University is happy to grant a veto on speakers to snowflake leftists so long as the leftists threaten violence. This is how free speech dies: when people in power cave to the bullies rather than standing up for basic rights.”
Put aside Shapiro’s considerable accomplishments: appearing on Fox News, CNN, and MSNBC regularly, author of six books, and EIC of The Daily Wire, among other things. Put aside conservatism being a minority viewpoint on college campuses all over the country, including quite clearly at DePaul. Put aside students’ potential reactions to what Shapiro might say.
The question here is, what kind of campus is DePaul to be? Is DePaul to be a campus where, as Shapiro puts it, free speech goes to die? Is DePaul to be a campus that submits to the whims of the intolerant Left if just one conservative viewpoint is expressed? Is DePaul to be a campus that enforces an echo-chamber of statist ideals? Is DePaul to be a campus that actually promotes and upholds freedom of speech and expression, or one that just pretends to?
"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.”
Bob Janis, Vice President of Facilities Operations at DePaul
On a more personal note, when I came to DePaul last September as a wide-eyed freshman, I was under the impression that DePaul, while it could if it chose, would not abuse its status as a private University to suppress speech that administration or students didn’t agree with; that DePaul, while it was likely opposed to most conservative values, would still allow conservative speakers like Ben Shapiro to be heard just the same as they have other speakers like convicted Palestinian terrorist Rasmea Odeh; that DePaul, while undoubtedly liberal, would still uphold the founding values of freedom of speech and expression.
I hope I wasn’t wrong.
We, the DePaul Young Americans for Freedom chapter, call on DePaul University to reverse this disgraceful decision.