UConn hosts Linda Sarsour; no special counseling offered

The University of Connecticut will host Linda Sarsour this month with no restrictions despite placing restrictions on the Ben Shapiro event in January.

Sarsour, a Women’s March organizer and open advocate for Sharia Law, is scheduled to speak on UConn’s campus for the opening of Women’s History Month lecture series “Nevertheless she Persisted,” according to The College Fix.

The lecture series is sponsored by the UConn Center for Diversity and Inclusion and the Women’s Gender and Sexualities Studies Department, among other campus organizations. 

[RELATED: Linda Sarsour tapped to join panel for anti-Semitism event]

When the UConn College Republicans and Young Americans for Freedom chapters hosted Ben Shapiro on campus in January, however, the school placed restrictions on the event, and even offered mental health counseling to students distressed by Shapiro’s proximity to them.

“We understand that even the thought of an individual coming to campus with the views that Mr. Shapiro expresses can be concerning and even hurtful and that’s why we wanted to make you aware as soon as we were informed,” Associate Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer Joelle Murchison said at the time. “In the meantime, please utilize the many campus resources available to you should you want to talk through your feelings about this issue, including my office, the Cultural Centers, the Dean of Students Office, and CMHS, if necessary.” 

[RELATED: UConn offers counseling, restricts access to Shapiro event]

Due to this stance taken by university administration, they established a “review” process that will be applied to all campus speakers, and came to the conclusion that the public should not be allowed to attend the Shapiro lecture. Sarsour’s event is likewise open only to those with a University ID.

The university held that it was subjecting Shapiro’s event to the same review process as a previous lecture by Anita Hill, saying at the time that events sponsored by the university were already subjected to the same sort of review process it was imposing on student groups.

“Anita Hill’s visit was coordinated and sponsored by the university, which considers the same kinds of questions internally before inviting a speaker to campus,” UConn Spokesperson Stephanie Reitz explained. “The difference is that the university considers and plans for those factors before issuing an invitation.”

“A speaker’s presence on campus doesn’t mean that UConn as an institution has endorsed his or her message,” Reitz told the Fix in reference to Sarsour’s lecture. “However, we believe public universities should be places where differing views can be expressed respectfully and where our students and other guests can consider and challenge a variety of opinions.”

”This event is part of Women’s History Month, in which the Women’s Center at UConn has an annual speaking event,” she elaborated in a statement to Campus Reform. “Linda Sarsour was invited to talk about her role in organizing the 2017 Women’s March on Washington, how that was informed by women and women’s movements in the past, and her efforts and experience with bringing together various coalitions of women.”

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