DePaul YAF Defies School Ban, Set to Host Shapiro, Sommers

By DePaul YAF

At DePaul University, our Catholic and Vincentian ethics require our professors, staff, and administrators to urge students to ask the simple, yet profound question: “What must be done?”

We at DePaul’s Young Americans for Freedom chapter(YAF) have been asking ourselves that question over the last few months. What must be done to stop the near daily attacks on students’ speech rights? What must be done for DePaul to restore its faith in its students? What must be done to return DePaul to an institution of free thought and open debate?

Last August, DePaul announced a ban of conservative commentator Ben Shapiro for the foreseeable future. When our YAF chapter requested a room for the event, Bob Janis, Vice President of Facilities Operations, informed us that, “given the experiences and security concerns that some other schools have had with Ben Shapiro speaking on their campuses, DePaul cannot agree to allow him to speak on our campus at this time.”

Since that announcement, Shapiro has spoken on multiple college campuses, including Yale, Clemson, and UT Austin. He has been speaking on college campuses for years, making appearances at many different schools, too many to count. Furthermore, he holds a degree from Harvard Law, where he graduated cum laude, and is a New York Times bestselling author.

DePaul University’s Guiding Principles on Speech and Expression clearly state that “DePaul affirms the right of speakers to voice their viewpoints, even at the risk of controversy.” These viewpoints, DePaul points out, help foster “a community that welcomes open discourse.” The statement goes on to explain, “We believe that intellectual inquiry is enriched immeasurably by robust debate and exposure to differing points of view. By remaining open to a broad range of ideas and opinions, we foster mutual understanding, test our beliefs, and create the most effective conditions for seeking knowledge.”

There is no argument to be made that Ben Shapiro does not substantively contribute to this crucial dialogue. Therefore, DePaul YAF is excited to announce that on Tuesday, November 15, alongside Christina Hoff Sommers, Ben Shapiro will be speaking on our campus in Cortelyou Commons at 5:00 PM.

Consistently, DePaul has maintained that “security concerns” are the reason for Ben’s initial ban—that if Ben comes, students will attack him for promoting strong conservative values. We at DePaul YAF have faith that the DePaul community will not attack Ben Shapiro for promoting principles that more than half the country holds. We have faith that in this divided time in our country and our community, DePaul can be a shining example for the nation that we all can come together, listen to, and debate each other. After all, that is what higher education—and we would hope DePaul—is all about.

Back in August, even the DePaul College Democrats agreed with these sentiments. In a statement they said, “We do not view Ben Shapiro as an overt threat to peace on campus, nor does he inherently fan the flames of controversy on campus. As an executive board, we disagree with the precedent set by banning his speech on campus.”

We speak now directly to the DePaul administration: Will you uphold free speech? Will you allow the supposed dialogue you so often revere to actually take place? Will you reject our Guiding Principles on Speech and Expression and the promises you made regarding students’ speech rights? Do you have such little faith in thestudent body and the institution that one person expressing a different (and quite common) point of view will cause students to commit acts of violence?

It is time for you to show to your prospective and current students, faculty, staff and alumni your faith in yourstudents and your commitment to free expression and open debate.

If you choose to stop this event from going forward, know that you are making clear to everyone that you do not support free speech and you believe the environment you have created at DePaul is not conducive to free expression or open debate.

We at DePaul YAF feel that would be a sad admission ofDePaul’s rejection of its values and its utter lack of faith in its student body. We hope that DePaul University makes the right decision and that the DePaul community is excited for our event with Sommers and Shapiro next week.