News and Commentary

DePaul Doubles Down On Shapiro Ban

In an email sent Wednesday to faculty and staff members, DePaul University reaffirmed its commitment to destroying free speech on campus, doubling down on its widely criticized ban of Ben Shapiro. The email, sent by Vice President of Student Affairs Gene Zdziarski and Vice President of Facilities Operations Bob Janis, opened by saying, “Some of you may have seen news accounts of DYAF’s request to bring political commentator Ben Shapiro to speak on campus. After careful consideration, DePaul has decided to deny this request.”

Janis and Zdziarski pointed specifically to Shapiro’s appearance at California State University- Los Angeles where violent leftists attempted to destroy the Young Americans for Freedom chapter’s event, physically barring students from entering the lecture hall and even pulling a fire alarm to try to shut down the speech as it was happening. Shapiro continued to speak, but afterwards was forced to be escorted out by his security team.

“Having reviewed recent reactions to this speaker at other campuses, and in particular his appearance at California State University – Los Angeles, our campus Public Safety Department concluded they could not provide sufficient security in the event of a similar situation at DePaul. Many are focused on this situation as solely a free speech concern, but as a university, we view such speaker requests from a number of viewpoints, including safety of our students, faculty, staff and property. That is our responsibility.”

If that is the case, DePaul has utterly failed as a school that purports to promote open discourse. Instead of standing up to vicious radicals, DePaul capitulates to them, handing out a rioters’ veto to anyone who might threaten to disrupt a speaking event. Disgracefully, Zdziarski and Janis tried to pay lip service to free speech afterwards, despite their stomping on it:

“Free speech is part of a university’s foundation, and we don’t take such matters lightly. Speakers of all political positions have been welcomed at DePaul, and will continue to be invited and welcomed to DePaul.”

If only DePaul’s actions matched their words.

Zdziarski and Janis went on to say “the university has encouraged DYAF to plan for another on-campus speaker in the fall. Earlier this summer, the student group submitted a list of names of potential speakers. Other than Mr. Shapiro, all the others have been green lighted. All student groups can request on-campus venues for speaker events. As with all speakers, DePaul may make various time, place, and manner requirements as we exercise our responsibility for the safety of our students, faculty and staff.”

If the safety of their students and others is the concern, perhaps DePaul should address the radical students they are worried will create a security threat. Instead of punishing the offender, DePaul is punishing the offended. We at DePaul YAF would love to have other speakers on campus along with Shapiro; but what happens when leftists threaten to shut down those events as well? Following the precedent DePaul is setting with this decision, that speaker will likely be banned from campus too, free speech be damned. Shapiro put it bluntly on Fox News’ The Kelly File on Monday:

“If this is how things are going to be from now on, free speech doesn’t exist, because it really creates an incentive for people to get violent at protests and get violent when speakers come to make sure that people they disagree with don’t get to show up on campus anymore.”

As a current student at DePaul, I am ashamed of my university’s disgusting actions. Despite bipartisan contempt for this decision, DePaul is more worried about preventing the world from seeing a well-respected conservative commentator like Ben Shapiro than standing up against potential violence from the Left.

Frankly, I don’t enjoy dragging my school’s name through the mud, because ultimately as a student who will likely get my degree from this university, that probably won’t help me. But when the school does something as contemptible as this, abusing its status as a private university to cowtow to violent leftists, I feel compelled to speak up. With the current climate, I cannot recommend parents or students put their money into getting a degree from DePaul—right now, this is not a school that cares about free speech, intellectual diversity, or open discourse.

At DePaul, we are watching free speech die. Hopefully, that will change. Young Americans for Freedom will fight until it does.