UCF students protest ‘white supremacist’ Ben Shapiro
- The College Republicans at the University of Central Florida plan on bringing Ben Shapiro to campus to speak in March.
- The group sought the help of student fees to bring Shapiro to campus, but protestors aiming to block those funds gathered at the meeting to discuss the students' request.
During a student government meeting at the University of Central Florida, students gathered to protest a bill to allocate funds for a speaking event featuring conservative commentator Ben Shapiro.
Students gathered to oppose the allocation of student fees for Shapiro, reasoning that the mainstream conservative figure is supposedly known for his “homophobic, transphobic, and racist commentary.” The Pride Student Association made an Instagram post including the date and time of the meeting and encouraged students to block funds that would be used to “bring white supremacist Ben Shapiro to our campus.”
The College Republicans at UCF announced in January that the conservative political commentator was scheduled to appear on campus.
Get excited Knights! @UCFGOP is proud to announce that we’ve partnered with @yaf_ to bring @benshapiro to our beautiful campus on March 23rd. Future information pending so make sure to check YAF’s website for any and all future updates!#UCF #LeadRight #FlaPol #Sayfie pic.twitter.com/zSBoK0LB1b— College Republicans at UCF (@UCFGOP) January 29, 2020
According to Knight News at UCF, College Republicans requested $17,000 of activity and service fees from the student body. Some of the funds for the event have already been raised by the College Republicans.
When a funding request exceeds $1,500, the allocation must be submitted as a bill to the senate rather than committee allocation.
In a statement to Knight News, College Republicans member Andrew Porter defended the bill to allocate funds, saying that students who do not agree with Shapiro should instead engage in discussion rather than trying to keep him from speaking.
Former Student Government Senator Karen Caudillo expressed her support for the First Amendment but argued that it’s not appropriate for students to be paying for the Shapiro event through their activity fees. Caudillo suggested that the College Republicans should, “...ask whoever is already donating the funds to donate the other half.”
According to College Republicans Vice Chairman Didi Malka, Young America’s Foundation has already committed to fund $17,500 for the event. The approximate cost to host Ben Shapiro is $35,000
The first reading of the bill resulted in a 16-17-1 unfavorable count toward funding Shapiro.
“UCF students and Registered Student Organizations like the College Republicans may request funding from UCF Student Government for things like research projects, to attend academic or professional conferences, and to bring speakers to campus,” University of Central Florida Director of Strategic Communications told Campus Reform.
The director also noted that UCF has brought speakers like Charlie Kirk, Milo Yiannopoulous, and Graham Allen in the past.
According to the director, “UCF is subject to the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and must allow the free expression of speech on its campus, regardless of the message.” However, the director also said the students in attendance were not protesting Shapiro’s opinions.
Rather, the students were in protest of the amount being requested.
The senate is expected to take up the final reading of the bill to allocate funds for the Shapiro event this week.
“The campus Left’s opposition to Shapiro’s speech shows their fear of intellectual diversity and the weakness of their own ideology. Hosting Shapiro—the most requested campus speaker in the country—is a huge opportunity for UCF students to hear new and diverse ideas, but student leaders would rather protect the Left’s echo-chamber than allow their constituents to engage in the free and open exchange of ideas," Spencer Brown, national spokesman for YAF told Campus Reform.
"Whether these intolerant students like it or not, YAF's Fred Allen Lecture Series is bringing Ben Shapiro to the University of Central Florida and we encourage all students to attend the lecture their leftist peers are attempting to stifle," Brown added.
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