Gonzaga cites Christian mission in rejecting Ben Shapiro event

A Washington State college rejected a proposal to host Ben Shapiro, citing the school’s Christian mission, as well as the conservative commentator’s tendency to attract “extremely divisive and hateful speech.”

Gonzaga University’s vice president of student development, Judi Biggs Garbuio, denied the school’s College Republicans chapter’s request to bring Shapiro to campus, citing protests and safety issues, and arguing that such an event would go against Gonzaga’s mission statement.

“Mr. Shapiro’s appearances routinely draw protests that include extremely divisive and hateful speech and behavior, which is offensive to many people, regardless of their age, politics or beliefs,” Biggs Garbuio said in a response to the event request submitted by Gonzaga College Republicans President Olivia Johnston and obtained by Campus Reform.

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“Gonzaga University is committed to the human dignity of every individual,” the administrator continued. “This is the core of our mission based on the teachings of Christ Jesus, and the foundations of the Society of Jesus. We stand in solidarity with vulnerable members of our community who may be targeted for discrimination, ridicule, or harassment by others.”

Later in the email, she addressed the concern of safety on campus if Ben Shapiro were to be allowed to speak.

“Gonzaga’s events policy requires us consider whether an event would pose substantial risk to the safety occurred to any member of our campus community,” Biggs Garbuio said. “In light of what has occurred on other campuses, our security team has raised questions about whether we we can adequately secure a campus venue.”

“They want Gonzaga to be a left of center university and they have made it clear diversity of thought it not welcome,” Johnston told Campus Reform. “My mission as President is to ensure free speech on campus, as college is a place to expand your thinking and not be indoctrinated in the classroom.” 

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“I refuse to accept a University that only supports strictly liberal thinking,” she said. “The hypocrisy must end.”

Cody Meyer, current Vice President of Gonzaga College Republicans, expressed similar sentiments. 

“When an idea or figure arises who does not support the politically biased narrative Gonzaga clings to, our university can dismiss it as hate and intolerance,” he told Campus Reform. “I urge Gonzaga to reconsider this decision and support the fundamentals of the Jesuit university to which I belong.”

Gonzaga senior and former College Republicans president Nicholas Gervasini called Shapiro a “nightmare for the administration,” telling Campus Reform that the conservative author has “made his living criticizing their exact types.”

Biggs Garbuio did not respond to a request for comment in time for publication.

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