On Tuesday, Young America’s Foundation announced the six university campuses that will host Daily Wire Editor-in-Chief Ben Shapiro, whom YAF calls the #1 requested speaker in the country, for YAF’s Fred Allen Lecture Series during the spring semester. The first event will take place at George Washington University on January 17.
Other universities hosting Shapiro include the University of Michigan, the University of Alabama, Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, California,—Gonzaga University in Washington state, and Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, Arizona, the largest Christian university in the world.
Gonzaga University, a private Jesuit university located in Spokane, Washington, had recently stirred controversy in late November when it “declined” a speaking event by 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.
As The Daily Wire reported, Gonzaga’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.
Gonzaga released a statement that read:
Gonzaga University declined the College Republicans’ request to make a proposal to bring Ben Shapiro to campus due to two factors: (a) concerns relating to the safety and security of providing the same, and (b) concerns regarding the potential for inappropriate behavior surrounding the event that might violate our institution’s standards for conduct.
We are committed to the safety and security of our campus community, including visitors. Given Mr. Shapiro’s popularity, in evaluating what has occurred on other campuses, the University felt it would not be able to provide a suitable venue, as well as the concomitant level of security, necessary to appropriately host him. The students who made the request were encouraged to find a local venue that was better equipped to manage the event, and to ensure the safety and security of the guests.
Mr. Shapiro’s appearances have drawn protests that include inappropriate behavior, as well as divisive and hateful speech, which is offensive to many people regardless of their age, politics or beliefs. As a private, faith-based, mission-driven institution committed to the human dignity of every individual, we stand in solidarity with vulnerable members of our community who may be targeted for discrimination, ridicule, or harassment by others.
Shapiro responded at the time:
So we can’t have me because we don’t want the people who are yelling at me, which is a basic violation of First Amendment principles. Gonzaga is a private school obviously, so that changes the math a little – they can do what they want. But by the same token, if you are worried about your student body being exposed to interesting ideas because people are going to protest, all this does is create an incentive for people to protest and make trouble. That works both ways. If the new rule is that they will bar anyone from coming to campus who draws protests, why wouldn’t right wingers go out and protest Angela Davis, who spoke there within the last five years – who was an honest-to-God former terrorist who was on the FBI’s most wanted list. The fact that they openly say this is even more amazing.
Shapiro’s lectures have been targeted by universities or student groups on campuses before, including the University of Southern California, UCLA, the University of Minnesota, St. Olaf College, the University of California, Merced, the University of Connecticut, Concordia College, Tufts University, the University of California, Berkeley, Northwestern University, DePaul University, and California State University, Los Angeles.