Here's why Beloit College did nothing to stop Betsy DeVos' brother's talk from getting canceled
- A Wisconsin college canceled a speech by Blackwater founder Erik Prince after students stacked chairs on the stage and played instruments.
- Beloit College said that, before the event, it decided that neither the school nor police would “physically restrain or physically remove any protesters at the event unless absolutely necessary.”
A Wisconsin college canceled a conservative group’s event in late March after students barricaded the stage with chairs and banged on drums.
Beloit College canceled its Young Americans for Freedom chapter’s event featuring Blackwater founder and former CEO Erik Prince, who is also the brother of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, following protests from students, the campus newspaper The Round Table reported. School administrators cited “safety concerns” and condemned the behavior of the protesters in a statement released the night of the event.
Prince, whose private military group Blackwater, now Academi, employed private security contractors who were convicted for killing Iraqi civilians, was invited to discuss national security. In the days leading up to the event, students expressed their anger with Prince’s invitation on the Beloit College student Facebook group, according to The Round Table. The former editor-in-chief of that publication penned an op-ed protesting the invitation of Prince, who “wield[s] a resume drenched in blood,” and one Muslim student was even suspended after embarking on a social media tirade during which he criticized the invitation.
The 2007 incident for which the Blackwater operatives were convicted has been the subject of multiple governmental investigations partly because the former private contractors claimed they acted in self-defense.
Erik Prince, founder of Blackwater, was supposed to speak at Beloit College more than 30 minutes ago. So far, protests seem to have delayed that. pic.twitter.com/JarR5EvVlF— Angela Major (@angela_major_) March 28, 2019
The night of the event, a student group called Students for an Inclusive Campus (SIC) countered the speech by putting on a drag show and hosting an event titled “Baking with the African-Americans.” By the time the event was set to begin at 7:30 p.m., numerous students walked out in protest. Several protesters began to walk in with drums. The stage had where Prince was set to speak had been stacked with chairs.
According to The Round Table, Prince never emerged to address the crowd.
Campus Reform reached out to Andrew Collins, the YAF chapter president, for comment on what occurred. Collins referred Campus Reform to details he gave to The Round Table.
“[Prince and I] waited for the go-ahead from security to enter Moore Lounge and begin the lecture,” Collins told the newspaper. “We waited and waited in the second-floor hallway for about 30 minutes until ultimately relocating to [the] back of the building, whereupon we were notified that the event had been canceled by the College.”
He added that Prince’s speech had been canceled because of Beloit College’s “refusal to control the situation.”
Cecil Youngblood, interim dean of students, announced to the group that the event has been cancelled for safety reasons. pic.twitter.com/JbswaF98sE— Angela Major (@angela_major_) March 28, 2019
After the speech was canceled, Beloit College issued a condemnation and stated that it would begin an immediate investigation into those who disrupted the event.
Campus Reform reached out to Beloit for an update on the investigation but received no response in time for publication.
YAF also attempted to reach out to Prince for comment on the canceled event. Prince told the Beloit Daily News that Beloit administrators “lacked the moral courage to enforce free speech.”
“It's sad the president and the administration of this college lacked the moral courage to enforce free speech and to defend free speech," Prince told Beloit Daily News. "Fortunately, President Trump will defend free speech and I think the college will be hearing from the court soon on this because enough is enough."
Beloit College released a version of the night’s events from the administrators’ perspective, along with an FAQ document to explain decisions behind Prince’s invitation, why the speech was canceled, and why an investigation was opened into the protesters.
According to these documents, approximately 300 people tried to attend the speech. The documents also detail how the heckling students refused to stop and how administrators had decided before the event not to “physically restrain or physically remove any protesters at the event unless absolutely necessary.”
Campus Reform also reached out to YAF national spokesman Spencer Brown for comment but received no response in time for publication.
Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @eduneret