News and Commentary

Gonzaga University ‘Declines’ Shapiro Speaking Event, Frustrating Students

On Wednesday, Young America’s Foundation reported that Gonzaga University, a private Jesuit university located in Spokane, Washington, “declined” a speaking event by Daily Wire Editor-in-Chief Ben Shapiro on their campus. The students had hoped to hear Shapiro speak in the spring of 2019, but Gonzaga’s Dean of Student Life sent an email to students that said Shapiro speaking would violate a portion of the school’s event policy.

The university’s policy states that permission to invite a guest speaker or to host an event for the public on campus may be denied altogether if:

The speech or event would not constitute a legitimate educational experience or otherwise contribute to the University’s mission; or the speech or event is likely to confuse the public or students about or offend the University’s core values or mission as a Catholic, Jesuit, humanistic institution by advocating positions or activity contrary to Catholic teachings and the person or group seeking permission refuses to accept provisions for appropriate response or counter-programming; or there is a substantial risk that the speech or event would conflict with University policies concerning the creation of a hostile learning environment; or the speech or event poses a substantial risk to the physical safety of members of the University community,

As YAF spokesman Spencer Brown noted, Gonzaga had no problem inviting avowed Communist Angela Davis. He listed her resume:

From 1969-1991 Davis was a proud member of the Communist Party, twice being the party’s Vice Presidential nominee; in 1969 she was welcomed by murderous dictator Fidel Castro to Cuba, a nation she felt was free of racism because “only under socialism could the fight against racism be successfully executed.” Davis was one of the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted fugitives in 1970 for her role purchasing firearms used to shoot a judge in the head, but found not guilty at trial. Davis was invited to the Soviet Union by the Central Committee and received an honorary doctorate from Moscow State University in 1972. In 1979 Davis was awarded the Lenin Peace Prize and praised the “glorious name of Lenin” in her acceptance speech. Before the mass murder-suicide at Jonestown, Davis addressed followers of Jim Jones and praised them for their progressive activism. More recently, Davis is a supporter of the anti-Israel BDS (boycott, divest, sanction) campaign, and served as an honorary co-chair of the Women’s March.

The university’s mission statement asserts, “Through engagement with knowledge, wisdom, and questions informed by classical and contemporary perspectives, Gonzaga cultivates in its students the capacities and dispositions for reflective and critical thought, lifelong learning, spiritual growth, ethical discernment, creativity, and innovation.”

Brown stated, “This decision by Gonzaga administrators amounts to institutional anti-Semitism. For Gonzaga to allow someone like Angela Davis to speak—while barring Ben Shapiro from appearing at the invitation of conservative students—is the height of liberal hypocrisy. No one is expecting Shapiro to be teaching on the tenets of the Catholic faith, so Gonzaga’s objections are flatly absurd, especially when one considers Angela Davis somehow passed muster for Gonzaga administrators.”