UCSB frets Shapiro will make black students 'anxious and uneasy'

In the wake of a contentious funding debate featuring video of a student senator threatening conservative classmates, UCSB is worried that black students will feel “targeted” by Ben Shapiro.

The University of California, Santa Barbara’s statement, a copy of which was obtained by Campus Reform, was issued in response to last week’s heated debate in a Student Senate meeting over funding an appearance by Shapiro, a well-known conservative activist.

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The CRs were requesting $5,000 for the event, and at one point in the deliberation, the group was accused of having incited violence on campus the previous semester. The CRs disproved the allegation by releasing video revealing that it was in fact a student senator, Jordan Mitchell, who had approached them and repeatedly challenged them to fight while screaming obscenities.

Mitchell nearly repeated the performance during the meeting, aggressively approached the College Republicans’ videographer before being ushered out of the building by a friend, after which the Senate voted to approve the funding request.

“In the spirit of free expression and civil discourse—a spirit which we should all, as academics and civilized and considerate human-beings—embrace, and in the spirit of the A.S. constitution—which establishes that no student requesting funds should be discriminated against for political beliefs—we firmly believe that the case for approving the Finance & Business Committee’s decision to fully fund our request is compelling and indisputable,” the CRs said in a statement on their Facebook page.

USCB later sent students an email addressing their stance on the situation, but rather than addressing the revelation that a student government representative had repeatedly sought to fight a group of his classmates for advertising their political beliefs, the administration directed its remonstration against Shapiro, describing his ideas as a threat to the mental health of the campus community.

“As a nation and as a campus we are in the midst of a very difficult time,” the statement reads. “Our country is involved in one of the most uncivil and contentious Presidential elections in history, and the issues raised, and the often divisive ways they are debated, are taking a toll on our relationships, community, and personal well-being. We are concerned about the health of our campus community.”

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“Many of you have reported experiencing or hearing about recent incidents on campus—specifically the heated and hurtful exchanges during and following last week’s Associated Students Senate meeting in which a campus organization requested funding to bring a potentially politically charged speaker to campus who would be speaking about the Black Lives Matter movement,” the university continues. “Understandably, the events of the evening made students in many communities feel anxious and uneasy, and Black students felt particularly targeted.”

The statement acknowledges that funding for the Shapiro event was approved in accordance with the system-wide policy regarding funding for campus programs, but says it is important to “acknowledge that underrepresented students, students of color, or other students who may be in the minority at UCSB can be impacted in different and unique ways by their universal application.”

Campus Reform reached out to UCSB for comment and elaboration, but did not receive a response in time for publication.

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @AutumnDawnPrice