When the conservative club at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee hosted Ben Shapiro through Young America’s Foundation’s Fred Allen Lecture Series last semester, it was a stunning success. More than 800 students packed the lecture hall while hundreds more patiently waited in a standby line for the chance to hear Shapiro in person. Despite threats of protest, no disruptions occurred and conservative ideas were warmly received by the students in attendance.
But when the same conservative students who successfully hosted Shapiro announced they were working with YAF to bring Dinesh D’Souza to campus as part of YAF’s ‘Fake History Debunked’ lecture tour, UW-Milwaukee administrators slapped the students with new restrictions they’d be forced to agree to before a contract would be signed:
–Citing security concerns in a meeting with student organizers on February 4th, administrators notified students that they would be forced to use a specific venue and that a new university-controlled ticketing system would be enforced.
–Following this meeting, students learned on February 14th that UW-Milwaukee’s marketing department was told the students were not allowed to print flyers advertising the event until a contract was signed.
–A day later on February 15th, students were notified that a standby line would also not be allowed.
–On February 18th students were forced to change the planned date of the lecture because administrators had taken so long to move through the planning process that effectively marketing the event had become impossible.
–Just this week, at last, administrators agreed to a date for the lecture, March 27.
Yet, UW-Milwaukee continues to insist upon its crazy new regulations.
Most problematic are the university’s ticketing requirements outlined in a rider. If YAF refuses to agree to the ridiculous and unprecedented requirements, UW-Milwaukee won’t allow the event to move forward. Among other restrictions, the university will not allow a standby line to be publicized and the university itself will manage and administer ticketing and ticket distribution. The rider states that the university “will work in good faith…to create a process all allowing unclaimed tickets and/or vacant seats to be claimed at the door on the night of the event.”
If the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee were sincere in its “good faith” efforts, administrators would allow a standby line to be advertised and let student organizers run the process as they did—perfectly—for their Shapiro lecture last year.
Throughout February though, administrators dragged their feet, failed to reply to messages from students looking into the status of their event, and threatened to cancel the lecture entirely if students bucked the university administrators’ requirements for advertising or marketing the event.
“Ever since our successful Ben Shapiro event, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee administrators are set on limiting our ability to reach students with conservative ideas,” said Will Paltz, the student leader organizing D’Souza’s lecture. “Rather than allowing students with a proven track record of hosting breakthrough events to continue building on their successes, UW-Milwaukee is on a power trip trying to prevent us from organizing the strongest event possible.”
Young America’s Foundation continues to work with the bold conservative students at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee to ensure that D’Souza is allowed to speak, that students are allowed and able to hear his conservative message, and that the university does not impede the free and open exchange of ideas.