SPOKANE, Wash. — Gonzaga University has denied the College Republicans’ request to have Ben Shapiro speak on campus, but club members said Friday they do not plan on taking “no” for an answer.
“It’s not over,” Olivia Johnston, the president of College Republicans, said.
Johnston and her fellow club members found out this week they will not be allowed to host Shapiro on campus for an event planned for next semester. Shapiro is a conservative political commentator and the editor-in-chief for 'The Daily Wire'.
In a statement the university said they denied the request because of safety concerns. University leaders cited the fact Shapiro's appearances have drawn protests which include "inappropriate behavior, as well as divisive and hateful speech, which is offensive to many people regardless of their age, politics or beliefs."
Last year, a demonstration at Cal Berkeley during his appearance resulted in four of five people being arrested.
Shapiro told KTTH, a conservative talk radio show, he has lectured at about 45 universities in the last few years and drew protest at only five appearances.
The reasoning for Shapiro’s denial does not sit well with the College Republicans.
"We thought Ben Shapiro represented many values of the university and for the university to deny him on the values that he has was disappointing,” Cody Meyer, the vice president of the College Republicans, said.
"I think it is hypocritical. Hypocrisy at its finest right here at Gonzaga right now. I think that is what is so utterly disappointing about this entire situation," Johnston said.
Johnston said the school has allowed left-leaning speakers and events on campus and there has not been enough conservative voices on campus.
"We also have multiple liberal speakers that come. I think that it is only fair that if you're going to bring one side of the political spectrum it's only fair to invite another side as well and so I think we are not having a lot of the right side right now," Johnston said.
The College Republicans mentioned Angela Davis’ visit in October 2017. Davis, an activist and former member of the Black Panther Party, was allowed to speak on campus for a justice conference.
According to the Gonzaga Bulletin, the College Republicans distributed flyers that read "Angela Davis Fact Sheet". The flyer had a copy of the poster she was on when she was on the ‘FBI’s Most Wanted’ list.
Two years ago the university allowed Dinesh D’Souza, a conservative filmmaker and commentator, to speak but it did not happen without some conflict. The university faced backlash for making the event private. It was originally limited to students and faculty only. They eventually agreed to open the event to the public after D'Souza filed an appeal.
Gonzaga had a longstanding ban on the Vagina Monologues. In 2010, students protested outside the law school to push the board of trustees to allow the controversial play to be shown on campus.
The production had been banned since 2002. According to the Gonzaga Bulletin it was performed for the first time on campus in April of 2011.
Johnston and Meyer said they want to meet university leaders.
"Our main goal with the College republicans is to spread diverse thought and have people decide for themselves instead of administration and faculty telling you what to think. I hate this idea of group thought. I want people to think for themselves," Johnston said.
The College Republicans also plan on circulating a petition on campus.
"We would love for Shapiro to come to campus and we think there is an overwhelmingly majority of students who agree with us on that,” Meyer said.