BU: 'Reasonable security' for Ben Shapiro event means cutting audience size in half
While a Boston University student group sponsor requested a 1,500-person venue to host conservative author Ben Shapiro, the university is mandating that a 700-person space be used instead.
BU Dean of Students Kenneth Elmore made this requirement after the school agreed to cover more than $12,000 in security costs for the event, which it had initially levied on the school's Young Americans for Freedom chapter, The Daily Free Press reported.
Elmore said that the school police recommended the 700-person venue because it is less of an open space than is the 1,500-person room.
“[Shapiro] draws opposition and counter-protesters on the outsides of buildings and around buildings and that all had to be considered as a part of it, when you think about what venue or what location you would use. We’re following the reasonable security plan of the BUPD," Elmore said.
BU YAF President Diana Soriano didn't buy that explanation.
"We're a bunch of college students who shouldn't be put on the hook for what administrators are worried Antifa might do," Soriano said in a statement to YAF. "Boston University's decision only encourages leftist agitators to continue their intolerant and often violent opposition to conservative events. If even the chance of Antifa activity can scare a school into charging unaffordable security fees that force the cancelation of an event, Antifa gets what it wants without lifting a finger."
The conservative group reported that the nearly $13,000 in security fees would go toward ensuring there are 40 police officers at the proposed one-hour speech. The fees would also cover two explosive disposal units, four officers to direct traffic and an additional six contracted security officers.
"As per the usual arrangement, it appears that conservatives are to be penalized for the not-even-yet-threatened misbehavior of intolerant Leftists. The heckler's veto is alive and well," Shapiro told the Daily Wire, of which he is editor-in-chief.
BU College Democrats President Nancy Santarsiero noted to the Daily Free Press that, if the Shapiro event occurs, the group will hold a peaceful protest: “I believe that all students at BU deserve the right to freedom of speech, but we also have the right to use our voices to protest. I worry about giving YAF more attention because that is what they want....We will hold a peaceful protest on Marsh and have a competing fundraiser for LGBTQ rights.”
This has not been the first time Shapiro has encountered issues scheduling campus events. Gonzaga University in Washington State rejected the conservative author as a speaker in 2018. While the school ultimately relented and allowed Shapiro to speak, it said that Shapiro's speech must be "respectful" of the school's values, two of which are social justice and diversity, concepts Shapiro has criticized in the past.
Grand Canyon University in Arizona also initially canceled a Shapiro appearance on its campus before later reversing course.
Boston University did not respond to a request for comment in time for publication.
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