Ben Shapiro is no stranger to controversy. His presence on college campuses has been met with protests from student groups hoping to silence his message. At his most recent speech, one university restricted public access to the venue and has even offered those who might have been offended by Shapiro counseling.
The University of Connecticut hosted Shapiro Wednesday. On Thursday, Shapiro appeared on the “Ingraham Angle” and talked to Fox.
UConn’s message has stoked the controversy. Joelle Murchison, Associate Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer, wrote an email to students well before the event.
“I wanted to make you aware of a situation we have recently learned about. There has been a request received for Ben Shapiro to come to campus as the guest of the College Republicans. Ben Shapiro is an American conservative political commentator, columnist, author, radio talk show host, and lawyer. There has been no confirmed date, location or time at this point and the University will be following the new event procedures as outlined in early December, which includes holding an event review which a member of the ODI team will be a part of. We understand that even the thought of an individual coming to campus with the views that Mr. Shapiro expresses can be concerning and even hurtful and that’s why we wanted to make you aware as soon as we were informed.”
“In the meantime, please utilize the many campus resources available to you should you want to talk through your feelings about this issue, including my office, the Cultural Centers, the Dean of Students Office, and CMHS, if necessary.”
— Kassy Dillon (@KassyDillon) January 25, 2018
Shapiro, upset about the hysteria surrounding his visit, says “something needs to be done” about universities that allow “a few crazed leftists” to dictate how public events are conducted. In this case, the university restricted access becasue of security concerns, but Shapiro says he would “second guess their assessment that they need to close it off to the general public.”
What students on both sides of the aisle said about @benshapiro and his “controversial” speech on the @UConn campus. We were there for you and have our report coming up in just minutes on @foxandfriends! pic.twitter.com/piNZ7CIyB1
— Todd Piro (@ToddPiro) January 25, 2018
The event was capped at 500 people.
After news of the counseling issue broke, The Daily Wire reached out to UConn. A spokesman provided them with this explanation:
“UConn recently updated its event planning review procedures to better ensure that the First Amendment rights of all invited speakers, audience members at their events, and others are respected and protected.We don’t regulate based on content; the procedures are purely administrative to determine logistics such as room size, security needs, media relations and other planning. The procedures are meant to be an objective planning tool to help ensure that events can take place without interruptions or safety issues, and aren’t based on a speaker’s political ideology.”
“We used a similar review process a few years ago in determining that a request to host Bernie Sanders on campus wasn’t feasible, given the timing and concerns about crowd size on a busy weekday on campus. One issue that’s considered in the course of the pre-event reviews is whether there might be protesters on site, or whether students who disagree with a speaker are aware of ways to express themselves peacefully. In this case, we sent an informational email to a small portion of the student body; it’s not a “warning,” as it’s been described. It’s simply a way to make sure that UConn students know of on-campus programs or services if they want to talk with others about their views.”
“We’re working closely with the College Republicans to ensure a safe event with robust and respectful conversation.”