Photo Credit: Ben Franske via Wikimedia Commons

Citing public safety concerns ahead of the February 26 Young America’s Foundation lecture featuring Ben Shapiro (part of the David and Marlyce Logan Advancing Freedom Lecture Series), University of Minnesota administrators have repeatedly denied conservative students’ requests for venues and isolated them to “an island” away from the central part of campus.

Apparently, administrators do not want the event to take place near light rail, University Avenue, or hospitals that border the campus in case intolerant leftists react adversely to ideological diversity.

Instead of enforcing the law and holding anyone who attempts to disrupt the event or destroy property accountable, the U of M is punishing conservatives with stringent regulations that didn’t apply to speaking events by now-disgraced Senator Al Franken or an appearance by Senator Elizabeth Warren. The plan to effectively quarantine conservatives on a satellite campus shows the University of Minnesota’s disregard for the free exchange of ideas and double standard when it comes to working with conservative students who wish to advance their ideas on campus.

The University of Minnesota rejected the following venue requests from conservative students:

Ted Mann Concert Hall with a capacity of 1500, centrally located on the main Minneapolis campus was rejected for a schedule conflict, despite no conflicting events being known at the time the request was made.

Willey Hall with a capacity of 800, also on the main Minneapolis campus, was rejected due to its proximity to a light rail (public transit) station and connections to other buildings via underground tunnels.

Mayo Memorial Auditorium with a capacity of 450, on the main St. Paul campus, was rejected by administrators as well.

Three red markers represent the venues conservative students requested, the blue marker is the venue the school assigned for Shapiro’s lecture.

The U of M then offered a venue with room for 400 in the St. Paul Student Center, several miles away from the main campus. Administrators also tried to force the event to take place at a later time, but conservative students were able to have this restriction on Shapiro’s speech withdrawn.

“The University of Minnesota, a public taxpayer-funded institution, must allow students to exercise their First Amendment freedoms regardless of viewpoint,” said YAF Spokesman Spencer Brown. “For the U of M to treat conservative students as a danger is absurd–it is not the conservatives who vandalize, it is the rabidly intolerant leftists who turn campuses into riot zones. The school’s double standard in allowing prominent leftists to speak without similar restrictions displays a blatant anti-conservative bias.”

Regardless of past events, the U of M cannot shuffle conservative students and their events around to limit visibility, attendance, or accessibility due to the ideas expressed. To do so is to treat conservative speakers and students as second-class citizens through unnecessary restrictions on and barriers to conservative speech, something YAF sees all-too-often on our nation’s campuses.

Of the 40+ campus lectures YAF has scheduled with Ben Shapiro, not a single one has turned to violence. Just as the University of Minnesota Police Department doesn’t shut down football games due to the potential vandalism caused by some students, they shouldn’t punish conservative events because they fear what intolerant leftists may do. The answer is not to censor conservative events and treat freedom-loving students as second-class citizens. The University of Minnesota must protect all students’ First Amendment expression, especially that deemed unpopular by the liberal elite who dominate the U of M.


For further information or to cover this story contact YAF Spokesman Spencer Brown via email (sbrown@yaf.org) or phone (800-872-1776).

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