SPOKANE, Wash. — Gonzaga University President Thayne McCulloh is allowing the College Republicans club to invite Ben Shapiro speak on campus this spring after the university previously denied the club's request in November.
Shapiro is a conservative political commentator and 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."
The College of Republicans released a statement Tuesday evening saying:
“We are very excited to have worked long and hard with Gonzaga’s President, Thayne McCulloh, to appeal the initial decision to deny Ben Shapiro to speak on campus. Through many meetings with Dr. McCulloh and his staff, the Gonzaga College Republicans are proud to have worked to reverse the school’s initial decision. It is relieving to see that with enough facts, clarity, and pressure we can work with the school to ensure all political opinion is treated equally – as it should be at our institution. We hope we can generate enough funding and excitement to ensure Mr. Shapiro really does come to campus with full support from Young America’s Foundation – who has helped us thus far. We are honored to be able to bring such a prominent speaker to Washington State for his first time, at our very own Gonzaga University.”
After the university’s denial, members of the club said they would not take no for an answer.
In November, College Republicans president Olivia Johnston told KREM that the school has allowed left-leaning speakers and events on campus and there has not been enough conservative voices on campus. Members of the club mentioned activist and former Black Panther Party member Angela Davis’ visit in October 2017.
Several years ago, the university allowed Dinesh D’Souza, a conservative filmmaker and commentator, to speak. The university faced backlash for making the event private, as 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.
McCulloh’s decision to allow Shapiro on campus follows a “deliberate review and additional information provided by the club’s leadership,” according to statement from the university.
The College Republicans club agreed to an event location and protocol that will provide a “more appropriate level of safety and security for the event,” according to the statement.
“I appreciate that the students worked through the University’s appeals process as set forth in the Events Policy to address issues regarding safety and campus security, as well as engaged in discussion about the focus of the event,” McCulloh said in the statement. “As a comprehensive, faith-based and mission-centered university, we are committed to facilitating exposure to a broad range of intellectual ideas and debate, even as we simultaneously strive to uphold the values reflected in our mission statement. This process is reflective of our efforts to do both.”