Socialist student leader calls on BU to cancel Shapiro speech

Socialist students at Boston University are demanding that the university take action to prevent an upcoming speech by Ben Shapiro.

Shapiro is set to speak this month as a guest of the school’s chapter of Young Americans for Freedom, but members of a socialist group on campus say that Shapiro spews “hate speech” and shouldn’t be allowed.

College campuses are often expected to host speakers from a variety of different viewpoints, but some students at Boston University are demanding that their school cancel a speech from conservative speaker Ben Shapiro on the grounds that he is guilty of “hate speech” and supposedly doesn’t represent the university’s “values.”

Shapiro is set to speak as a guest of the Boston University Young Americans for Freedom in November, but an op-ed published by Young Democratic Socialists of America at Boston University co-chair Anu Sawhney offers a look into the viewpoint of students who hope to change that.

“Those who defend Shapiro’s right to free speech forget that he does not have a right to a venue and a crowd at a private institution whose values he does not respect or adhere to,” Sawhney wrote.

According to a Facebook page for a group called BU Students Against Hate Speech, the group held a protest on Oct. 28 condemning BU for allowing Ben Shapiro to speak on campus.

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The group also made an online petition, hoping to reach 2,500 signatures. Groups sponsoring the petition include but are not limited to the Center for Gender, Sexuality, & Activism, BU College Democrats, & BU Students for Justice in Palestine. 

“The fact that Boston University is willing to give a platform to Shapiro is absolutely disgusting and should be condemned by all students and progressive people,” the petition reads.

YAF at BU reports that posters promoting the event were defaced with Hitler mustaches by students less than a week after going up. 

It has also been noted publicly in Sawhney’s op-ed that the Dean of Student Activities has agreed to put up Shapiro’s security fees, which are $12,720. “Why does a private institution have to provide a platform for hate speech?” Sawhney writes. 

Similarly, the Young Democratic Socialist Association chapter at BU tweeted from its official account, “@BU_Tweets is covering the security costs for this event, thereby facilitating and platforming hate speech and this petition is the first step in letting bu admin know that fascists like ben shapiro are not welcome on bu’s campus!” 

BU Students Against Hate Speech have also created a Facebook event page to protest the appearance of the “far-right propagandist and hatemonger” the day of the event.

[RELATED: BU: ‘Reasonable security’ for Ben Shapiro event means cutting audience size in half]

Speech First President Nicole Neily told Campus Reform that while attempts to shield students from Shapiro are “well-intentioned,” they are “ultimately detrimental to students’ personal development.”

“College is not meant to be ‘safe.’ Universities are meant to be a place where students and scholars pursue the truth, wherever that may lead,” Neily said, adding “A college experience used to be one where students learned how to function independently in society after leaving the nest - and one essential skill is how to cope constructively with different (and sometimes unwelcome) viewpoints.”

Campus Reform reached out to BU College Democrats, BU Students Against Hate Speech, and BU College Republicans for comment on the situation, but did not receive a response in time for publication.

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @GenSanchezz