The Undergraduate Student Government (USG) at the University of Southern California may cut funding for Thursday night’s speech by Daily Wire Editor-in-Chief Ben Shapiro, which has sold out the 1,235 seat Bovard Auditorium, because Young Americans for Freedom, which is sponsoring the event, canceled tickets reserved by student leaders whom YAF believed would disrupt the event.
According to the campus newspaper, The Daily Trojan, USG’s Discretionary Fund gave YAF $4,100. USG Treasurer Hunter Quarteri stated, “USG funding has a very strict policy guideline in which any event that is put on by a registered student organization needs to be free of charge and open to all USC students to attend.”
YAF chairman Maxwell Brandon was unconcerned about the funding being revoked, adding the cancellations were to “mitigate problems of people coming in to intentionally disrupt” the event. He asserted, “We have fair reason to believe that the specific individuals were planning on … getting tickets to disrupt the event or getting tickets to obstruct people from going to the event. We do have some record of very specific people and those people were removed. We as an organization couldn’t care less what organization people are associated with.”
The Daily Trojan reported, “Brandon added that multiple canceled tickets were also from accounts with false names that included expletives and other descriptors, which indicated that they were not serious attendees. One of the users had reserved 14 tickets, Brandon said.”
Tickets that had ostensibly been canceled had the names of the student leaders in the Black Student Assembly, Latinx Student Assembly and Student Assembly for Gender Empowerment.
Roughly two weeks ago, an anonymous “Shapiro-hater” contacted YAF, writing that USG leaders were planning to disrupt the event. He wrote:
As much as I hate Ben Shapiro and what he stands for, and I mean that guy drives me crazy, I am firmly a believer in letting people speak, so I want to let you know that at the Oct 4th event there will be a sizable number of student activists seeking to disrupt the event by coordinating texts, phone calls, and alarms to go off during the event. Activists include members of both USG [USC’s student government] and org leadership who are distributing the signup link along with the code to get a free seat, so the number of disrupters may be fairly large.
Brandon had informed the Daily Trojan that YAF had spent $1,000 for an area where people could protest the event outside of Bovard Auditorium. He added, “The rule is if you disagree with Ben Shapiro, you get to go to the front of the line because it makes for a lot more interesting event. We don’t want an echo chamber in Bovard. We would much prefer it to be a good mix of different, diverse ideas.”
As Jennifer Kabbany reported at The College Fix, “YAF plans to have a stand-by line for those who can fill the seats if and when a walk out takes place or disruptors are escorted out, according to the group’s Facebook page … A ‘Say NO to Shapiro’ counter-protest has been scheduled for the same time and day of the Shapiro speech. That demonstration is hosted by USC Students for Justice in Palestine, according to its Facebook page.”
Kabbany also reported:
Screenshots obtained by The College Fix from Young America’s Foundation show that there were seats falsely reserved in the venue to host Shapiro. One shows numerous tickets purchased under the names “youre anatzi,” “fuck off,” and “no hate speech,” among other names. Another screenshot shows a USC student alerting peers “we’re trying to reserve as many tickets as possible to shut it down.” A third shows a student acknowledging “we might protest from the inside, that’s why we’re all getting these tickets so we can disrupt it once it starts.”