Photo Credit: BSSTU [CC BY-SA 3.0 or GFDL], from Wikimedia Commons

On Tuesday, Young America’s Foundation filed a First Amendment lawsuit against the University of Minnesota, in federal court, after University officials engaged in viewpoint-based censorship of conservative students and their YAF-sponsored lecture featuring New York Times bestselling author Ben Shapiro. 

School policy permits administrators to wield unbridled discretion to suppress student speech that administrators dislike. The University of Minnesota has a long history of welcoming leftist guest speakers to campus, but when conservative students invited Ben Shapiro to speak at a YAF-sponsored lecture, administrators put the school’s Speech Suppression policy into action. 

University administrators schemed to limit student exposure to Mr. Shapiro’s conservative ideas. They banished Shapiro’s lecture to the St. Paul campus, refusing to allow him to speak on the University’s main campus in Minneapolis, and they arbitrarily limited student attendance to 500 attendees.

Internal emails obtained by Young America’s Foundation through the Censorship Exposed project revealed top-level administrators’ plans to arbitrarily cap attendance at Shapiro’s lecture and move the event to the St. Paul Campus—all despite misleading public statements to the contrary. 

“The free and open exchange of ideas is critical to a student’s education, but the University of Minnesota is depriving its student body of an intellectually diverse learning environment,” said Young America’s Foundation Spokesman Spencer Brown. “Administrators’ discriminatory treatment of conservatives—quarantining Shapiro and a limited number of students who wished to hear his ideas to a remote area of the St. Paul Campus—was a result of administrators’ disagreement with the viewpoint of Shapiro’s speech. Young America’s Foundation remains committed to holding administrators accountable for their censorship of conservative students at the University of Minnesota and across the country.”

Plaintiffs joining Young America’s Foundation’s First Amendment lawsuit are Students for a Conservative Voice (SCV) and Ben Shapiro. 

In addition to University of Minnesota President Eric W. Kaler, named defendants are Vice President of University Services Michael Berthelsen, Chief of University of Minnesota Police Department Matthew A. Clark, UMPD Lieutenant Troy Buhta, and Assistant Director of Student Unions & Activities Erik Dussault.

Since 1960 Young America’s Foundation has been the principal outreach organization of the Conservative Movement. YAF takes seriously any attempts by administrators to squelch the free expression of conservative students and continues its work across the country to hold schools accountable for their unconstitutional actions.


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

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