In November, Depaul University Young Americans for Freedom (YAF) courageously took a stand for free speech on their campus. For their bold activism and commitment to the advancement of free speech, DePaul YAF has been named November Chapter of the Month.
Over the summer, DePaul YAF applied for funding and a room reservation to host Ben Shapiro. At that point, the DePaul University administration told the chapter that Shapiro was banned from speaking on campus. The chapter quickly worked to schedule Christina Hoff Sommers as an alternative to speak. Shapiro agreed to appear on stage as Sommers’ “special guest”. The day before the event, DePaul University found out about this plan and threatened disciplinary action against the students. DePaul YAF was also notified that Shapiro would be arrested if he stepped foot on campus.
Undeterred, DePaul YAF quickly worked with Young America’s Foundation to secure an alternative venue. Sommers started the lecture on campus as planned, until Shapiro confronted university police just steps away from DePaul University. Shapiro was told he would be arrested if he even stepped foot on campus. He then Facetimed Sommers, who was giving the lecture as planned, to announce that the entire event was moving to the alternative venue a couple blocks from campus. The lecture in the new location filled an entire theatre plus two overflow rooms.
After the successful event, DePaul YAF chairman, Jorin Burkhart recognized the impact of the chapter’s bold activism. “Our event broke through to the vast majority of DePaul students. We’ve seen and heard many students voice their support for our right to bring people like Ben Shapiro and Christina Hoff Sommers to DePaul.”
DePaul YAF’s activities in the month of November exposed DePaul students to a viewpoint not taught in their liberal classrooms. Burkhart said, “In general, conservative ideas are frowned upon at DePaul. Conservative speakers are considered controversial or beyond the pale and conservative students are often treated as troublemakers simply because we voice our ideas.”
The chapter’s activism garnered widespread press on the local and national level. Even the editorial board of the Chicago Tribune published an op-ed in support of DePaul YAF after the chain of events that occurred surrounding Shapiro’s appearance.
The chapter is looking forward to bringing in another speaker next semester. They are excited to continue to promote intellectual diversity and free speech on campus. DePaul YAF is lead by chairman Jorin Burkhart, vice chairman John Minster, treasurer Dylan Thomas, and secretary Kelby Roth.
Congratulations to DePaul YAF for exposing hundreds of students on campus to conservative ideas they would not have heard without the chapter’s efforts!