Controversial conservative commentator Ben Shapiro is scheduled to speak at Ohio State University Tuesday evening. The former editor at Breitbart was invited to appear by the OSU Chapter of Young Americans for Freedom.
Shapiro’s appearances at some other college campuses have prompted protests. There are fliers posted around campus calling for protests at OSU but the university “does not anticipate a substantial risk to public safety or broad disruption of the university’s business,” according to a statement issued by a university spokesman.
Elle Lamb, president of the group hosting the event, says the goal of Shapiro’s appearance is to allow students to hear a side of conservative thought that they are not normally exposed to.
“You have a lot of liberal and leftists students out there who like to believe in just very surface thought…and he prods them to go deeper into what they believe and that makes them uncomfortable and they don’t like that,” Lamb said. “We want students to debate and talk and bringing Ben Shapiro is a great way to get people on campus to start talking about, what are the different viewpoints and what conservative ideas are.”
OSU student Johnny Amundson, an officer of the campus chapter of Young Democratic Socialists, says his group will set up tables outside the event to present students with an alternative viewpoint. Amundson says the university should have refused to allow Shapiro to speak inside.
“He has racist comments, racist people believe he’s racist, he’s transphobic, homophobic, I think just think the university shouldn’t be giving him a room to speak,” Amundson said.
OSU did refuse to allow white nationalist Richard Spencer to rent space on campus for an appearance. In a statement, University spokesman Ben Johnson said the two situations are different.
“The Ohio State University is a place for discussion and debate of diverse viewpoints. The event next week featuring Ben Shapiro is being sponsored by a registered student organization, and the university welcomes our student organizations to host events and bring in speakers.
Ohio State never makes decisions based on the content of speech. The university denied a request from Cameron Padgett to rent space on campus after determining that it was not able to accommodate the request due to substantial risk to public safety, as well as material and substantial disruption
to the work of the university. For the Ben Shapiro event, the student organization has been following the standard process for hosting an event and the university does not anticipate a substantial risk to public safety or broad disruption of the university’s business. Security needs for the event have been assessed and are capable of being addressed through reasonable measures.”