Marquette University Staff Caught Blocking Access to Shapiro YAF Lecture

Facebook posts obtained by Young America’s Foundation show at least one member of Marquette University’s staff engaging in attempts to undermine an upcoming Ben Shapiro lecture organized by the school’s Young Americans for Freedom (YAF) chapter.

In a comment on a Facebook thread, Chrissy Nelson, listed online as a program assistant for Marquette’s Center for Gender and Sexuality Studies, alleges that a director of diversity on campus suggested to her in a phone conversation that people should reserve seats to the lecture through Eventbrite posing as students in order “to take a seat away from someone who would actually go.” Nelson wrote that she would be “promoting” this suggestion, actively impeding Marquette students’ ability to hear from a respected conservative voice.

In a subsequent comment Nelson continued to boast that she “will encourage students to protest” Shapiro’s lecture the day after it occurs.

In yet another comment, Nelson, who began the post by identifying herself as “staff at Marquette,” wrote, “what has been directed to students is not to protest because the speaker has told Marquette he hopes students do protest to make an example of the protestors.”

Nelson also alleged that Marquette “allowed” Shapiro to speak only “because of the backlash DePaul University had with not allowing it,” in reference to DePaul’s widely-condemned decision to ban its school’s YAF chapter from hosting a Shapiro lecture on campus.

Nelson even explicitly directed former Marquette professor Susannah Bartlow to register for the lecture as a student to “take away a seat from a student that would be interested in going.” Bartlow was fired in 2015 for allowing the mural of a convicted cop killer to be painted in the resource center.

If the information Nelson conveyed in these postings is accurate, it indicates that multiple members of the university’s staff, including a director of diversity, are actively engaging in a plot to rob students of the ability to attend a lecture by a renown conservative author.

According to its website, Marquette University’s guiding values include a pledge to “nurture an inclusive, diverse community that fosters new opportunities, partnerships, collaboration and vigorous yet respectful debate.”

These alleged actions taken by its staff are a remarkable violation of that value and should immediately be condemned and reversed by the university’s leadership.

If university staff members are actively engaging in attempts to prevent students from hearing the ideas of a highly-respected conservative thinker, organized by the school’s hardworking Young Americans for Freedom club, it is a sad reflection on Marquette’s ability to foster an environment where “vigorous debate” is actually welcome.

Young America’s Foundation, the sole sponsor and organizer of Marquette YAF’s lecture, calls on the university to investigate Nelson’s allegations immediately.

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