Amid pressure from a student activist group, the student government of the University of Central Florida, a publicly funded university located in Orlando, recently voted against allowing funds to go to a student event scheduled for March featuring Daily Wire Editor-in-Chief Ben Shapiro. The move, says the group hosting the event, is another example of left-wing activists discouraging intellectual diversity on American campuses.
The event, scheduled for March 23rd, is part of the Young America’s Foundation’s Fred Allen Lecture Series, for which Shapiro has appeared on campuses across the country, including Stanford and Boston University. As is the case with most campus events in which Shapiro is featured, protests from left-wing groups have sprung up at UCF ahead of the scheduled appearance, still more than a month away.
As reported by Young America’s Foundation, left-wing student activist groups have mounted a campaign, reportedly spearheaded by the UCF Pride Student Association, which posted a call to action against Shapiro on its Instagram page.
“Stop Ben Shapiro from speaking at UCF,” reads an online flyer posted by the group last week. “College Republicans is working with Young Americans for Freedom to bring conservative political commentator, Ben Shapiro to UCF on March 23rd.”
“He is known for his homophobic, transphobic and racist commentary,” the flyer alleges, citing no examples of any such supposed rhetoric from the popular mainstream conservative author and podcast host.
“If you are against $20,000 of OUR student dollars to be used to hold this event, then stand in solidarity with us and other RSO’s on Thursday February 6 at 7 PM in the Keywest Ballroom to speak out against this at the next SGA Senate meeting.”
“The College Republicans have a bill that will be this [T]hursday on the SGA floor at 7:00 in the Key West Ballroom on that would bring white supremacist Ben Shapiro to our campus using the AS&F funds from our tuition,” the student group added in a comment along with the flyer on Instagram, again citing no evidence of the smear against Shapiro, an Orthodox Jew. “We encourage you to use your own judgement, research and perspective on this event and for you to voice that opinion at SGA’s meeting!”
Amid the protest campaign, members of UCF’s student government gave an “unfavorable” vote, 16-17-1, on Thursday, for the proposed funding bill of $17,000 for Shapiro’s appearance.
“Although some students said they felt they did not want their money spent on this bill, other students feel that bringing Shapiro here will give students who oppose him a learning experience,” UCF student paper Knight News reported Friday.
The conservative group hosting the event says members of the student government have singled out Shapiro’s speech. The bill received more scrutiny than similar proposals, said College Republicans Vice Chairman Didi Malka. The “unfavorable” vote is an example of those in power allowing their ideological “biases” to stand in the way of “intellectual diversity,” something universities have traditionally been committed to promoting rather than discouraging.
“No other funding bill has been treated with the amount of scrutiny ours has received, and our bill has met every threshold Student Government requires for an RSO to receive funding,” Malka told YAF. “I am saddened to see that certain senators have put their own biases in front of providing intellectual diversity and we hope to convince them next week to change their minds.”
The bill will go to the student senate next week, YAF reports. In order for the funding to be granted, a majority of the senate must approve the request.
Shapiro has been the target of left-wing protests repeatedly in the past, including ahead of his speech last fall at Stanford University, where a group of self-described “concerned” Stanford students advertised their planned protest against Shapiro’s supposedly “dehumanizing” ideas by comparing him to an insect in need of extermination.