Gonzaga University allowing Ben Shapiro to speak on campus in spring

February 5, 2019

Conservative political commentator Ben Shapiro will be allowed to speak on the Gonzaga University campus this spring after a Republican student club appealed an earlier decision by administrators.

President Thayne McCulloh said Monday the university and the Gonzaga University College Republicans agreed to an “event location and protocol that will provide a more appropriate level of safety and security.”

“I appreciate that the students worked through the University’s appeals process as set forth in the Events Policy to address issues regarding safety and campus security, as well as engaged in discussion about the focus of the event,” McCulloh said in a statement.

“As a comprehensive, faith-based and mission-centered university, we are committed to facilitating exposure to a broad range of intellectual ideas and debate, even as we simultaneously strive to uphold the values reflected in our mission statement. This process is reflective of our efforts to do both.”

The Republican club said on Facebook on Monday that it is planning to host Shapiro at the McCarthey Athletic Center. Olivia Johnston, the club’s president, did not immediately return calls and messages seeking comment.

The university denied Shapiro’s request to speak on campus in late November. Administrators said the event could lead to a “hostile environment for employees and students,” and that Shapiro’s presence would contradict the university’s Catholic and Jesuit mission.

Gonzaga was among six schools set to host Shapiro as part of his spring speaking tour, sponsored by Young America’s Foundation, a conservative youth organization.

Young America’s Foundation continued to list Gonzaga as a venue for Shapiro weeks after the university denied the request. The Republican club filed an appeal soon after.

Gonzaga wasn’t the only college to deny the request.

Administrators at Grand Canyon University – a private Christian college in Phoenix, Arizona – told students it wouldn’t provide a venue for Shapiro. In a Feb. 1 statement, the school said religious differences and a “high volume of rhetoric” dividing the country were among its chief reasons.

Shapiro has become a fixture on college campuses as a conservative voice rallying against political correctness and “victim culture.” He is a former Breitbart editor who has been critical of President Donald Trump. When Shapiro, who is Jewish, left Breibart in 2016, his departure led to a campaign of anti-Semitic speech from the alt-right.

He now runs his own conservative news site, the Daily Wire, and a syndicated radio show “The Ben Shapiro Show” which was recently picked up by KXLY.

Progressives have criticized him for his opposition to gay marriage and demeaning comments about transgender people.

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