A private college in Minnesota refused to let conservative author Ben Shapiro speak on the anniversary of a hate crime hoax at the school, according to a Thursday report.
St. Olaf College’s Turning Point USA chapter attempted to invite Shapiro for an April 23 speech, but the campus administration shut down the proposal, citing that April 23 was to be a time for “building unity,” reported The College Fix.
“The issue is not about whether Ben Shapiro can come to our campus, but when,” St. Olaf President David Anderson told the group in an email. “As you all know, the only date that Mr. Shapiro has indicated he is willing to travel to our campus is at a time that coincides with the anniversary of last year’s protests. This is deeply concerning.”
The school president referred to protests that took place upon discovery of a letter containing the n-word on campus. St. Olaf later found that the author fabricated the note to drum up attention for an apparently racist campus climate.
“Our campus is still healing from that experience,” Anderson explained. “One year after the unrest, I would like this to be a time where our community is focused on building unity. For these reasons, having Mr. Shapiro come during the last week of April is counterproductive to that goal, and inappropriate.”
St. Olaf Turning Point president Kathryn Hinderaker had been in the process of planning the Shapiro visit since November and Shapiro was only available to speak on April 23. The administrators denied the visit in February, days before Turning Point had to submit a payment to finalize the speech.
“Ben has spoken out time and time again about his belief that racism is an inherent evil, and it should be fought at every turn. Any true conservative agrees with that,” Hinderaker told The Fix. “Ben and the racist note have absolutely nothing in common, so having them on the same day should be no issue at all if the school has any interest in fostering intellectual diversity among its students.”
The college elaborated on its decision in a Wednesday email to The Fix.
“We have never stated or implied a connection between racism and conservatism,” a spokeswoman said, denying that, when reviewing the speaking proposal in mid-February, April 23 was Shapiro’s last available 2018 date. “We hope that the anniversary of last year will be an opportunity to bring the campus closer together and not to divide us further apart.”
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