In May, we discussed the highly disturbing incident of DePaul security standing around as a conservative speaker was prevented from speaking on campus. It was a terrible low for DePaul in allowing free speech to be denied to appease those who believe that only their views should be heard on campus. Now another conservative speaker, Ben Shapiro, has reported that his event was canceled after objections from protesters.
Shapiro also had an event cancelled at Cal State LA due to protesters blocking the entries and exits to the event. These are the same tactics used at UCLA to shutdown a conservative speaker.
Shapiro says that DePaul’s Young Americans for Freedom chapter invited him but that the university intervened. DePaul Vice President of Facilities Operations Bob Janis wrote to the chapter that “Given the experiences and security concerns that some other schools have had with Ben Shapiro speaking on their campuses, DePaul cannot agree to allow him to speak on our campus at this time.” Really? That is basically saying that DePaul will enforce the “heckler’s veto” and allow protesters to silence those with whom they disagree.
I find DePaul’s position incomprehensible and deeply disturbing. Universities are meant to be bastions of free speech, but they have increasingly yielded to pressures of protesters in the silencing of unpopular — and particularly conservative — speakers. DePaul must decide whether it wishes to maintain its status as a place of learning and free expression or whether it will surrender to those who will not tolerate opposing views or values.