SLU allegedly refused to allow conservative speaker on campus, sent police to escort her off campus

Young Americans for Freedom at Saint Louis University has accused the university of intentionally disrupting a planned free speech demonstration under the guise of the university’s civility policy.

Elisha Krauss and other demonstrators were forced off university property after the university allegedly refused to allow the event on ‘cancel culture’, deeming the ‘protest to be an unauthorized speaker event.’

Young Americans for Freedom at Saint Louis University (SLU) accused the school of intentionally putting obstacles in the way of a planned “cancel culture” lecture that was to be delivered by Elisha Krauss on May 3. The group alleged that SLU, a private Catholic institution, delayed its approval decision for the event “for nearly a month, and instituted multiple hurdles to make it more difficult to come.” 

Despite the alleged hurdles, the group stated Elisha Krauss was “coming to campus, whether [SLU] likes it or not.” Instead of giving a lecture indoors, as originally planned, Krauss and others held a demonstration outside and was later escorted off university property.

[RELATED: SLU students petition to bar Matt Walsh from campus. Walsh counters.]

Chairman of YAF at SLU Nicholas Baker told Campus Reform that he believes that the administration abuses policy to block certain speakers. Baker cited SLU’s policy on Civil Discourse, Speech, And Expression as the source of the conservative groups’ difficulty arranging speakers on campus. The policy charges the Speech, Expression, and Civil Discourse Committee with “provid[ing] advice and recommendations regarding controversial event requests.”

According to Baker, “[a]dministrators routinely abuse this policy by turning around contracts for leftist speakers”, while “sitting on contracts for conservative speakers for weeks on end.” Baker stated the administration continually raised different issues with the event, including concerns about protests and the need for YAF at SLU “to pay for security and organize the logistics for a protest against our own speaker.” 

[RELATED: WATCH: Students clash with Matt Walsh at SLU]

Baker continued, “[b]ecause we don’t feel that it is fair to require our group to pay for security because the Left here at SLU can’t be trusted to behave themselves when opposing viewpoints are being spread within a 1-mile radius, we decided to exercise another section laid out in the Civil Discourse Policy, which states ‘any publicly accessible space is available for protest.’” 

According to Baker, “[w]e brought Elisha in to lead a free speech demonstration. However, administrators later told us that they would arbitrarily consider our protest to be an unauthorized speaker event.”

Vice Chairman of YAF at SLU Carter Fortman told Campus Reform that  the school "never said outright we couldn't have the event, which in all honesty was the most frustrating part. We gave them about a month which we figured would be plenty of time for a bunch of school administrators…” 

He added that "it is a fairly simple process” that could have been resolved in “probably less than an hour.” Instead, according to Fortman, “they kept stringing us along for an entire month and never giving us much of a timeframe...” 

In Fortman’s view, the university’s recalcitrance ultimately led YAF at SLU to cancel its request for the lecture “because it just got so close to the event.” 

Krauss told Campus Reform that Jackie Weber, the Director of the Student Involvement Center at SLU, “refused to accept me as a speaker/YAF event but within two days approved a counter dance demonstration at the same time and place as our free speech demonstration.” 

YAF at SLU also noted via their Twitter account that the SLU SGA “scheduled a counter-event at the same time and location as our @yaf free speech demonstration featuring @ElishaKrauss”, declaring that “[w]e won’t let them stop us, though.” 

Video posted to the national YAF’s Twitter account shows Krauss speaking into a megaphone at SLU on May 3, expressing her desire for “equal access, for everyone’s voices to be heard” and her concern for students too afraid to demonstrate “because of fear of Comrade Jackie [Weber] writing them up or expelling them.”

[RELATED: Will tomorrow's meeting result in expulsion for student who passed out Matt Walsh flyers?]

The video also depicts Krauss and her supporters being escorted off campus by police while counter-demonstrators chant in the background. Krauss asked one police officer why she was being asked to leave while counter-demonstrators were not. The police officer’s response is inaudible over the chants of counter-demonstrators.

According to YAF at SLU, the university’s response to this event is part of a pattern of behavior designed “to make it more difficult for conservative student organizations to invite speakers to campus” that began after the group invited Fmr. Rep. Allen West (R – FL) to lecture on campus.

 “This approach,” the group noted, “has been very successful on their part- it took nearly six months to get approval for the [Matt Walsh] event back in December, all for the administration to implement onerous COVID rules and our backup venue [SFX College Church] cancelling with only 24 hours notice.”

Campus Reform reached out to the parties mentioned in this article. This article will be updated as necessary with any replies.

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @terrancekible