Rachel Ayres | Staff Writer
ASWU will be holding a vote on Wednesday, March 13 on whether or not the Young Americans for Freedom can bring Ben Shapiro on campus to speak.
Known as a controversial conservative commentator, Shapiro is editor-in-chief of The Daily Wire and host of “The Ben Shapiro Show,” the “top conservative podcast in the nation,” according to https://www.dailywire.com.
Often, controversy follows Shapiro. His appearances at University of Minnesota, University of California, Berkeley, Grand Canyon University and more all have come with doses of tensions.
Lauren Sagvold is the Chair of the YAF, who expressed the club’s concern. “ The conservative voice is underrepresented through events on campus, which does harm to the intellectual open-mindedness that Whitworth fosters,” she said.
“On Tuesday, March 5, I received an email from Jason Chapman, the Director of Student Activities saying that our proposal to bring conservative speaker, Ben Shapiro, has been denied,” Sagvold said. “About forty-five minutes later, he sent me another message stating that ‘after further discussions, we have decided it would in everyone's best interests to send this request to the ASWU Assembly for a vote.’”
Chelsea Shearer, ASWU’s financial vice president, stated, “The email that originally got sent to YAF from Jason was a miscommunication and was corrected quickly.”
Bringing Shapiro to campus would be funded for by YAF, according to Shearer.
The vote will be held at the weekly ASWU meeting Wednesday, March 13.
“A simple majority of voting ASWU members has to vote to approve,” Shearer said.
This would mean more than 50 percent of ASWU members would be needed to approve Shapiro’s visit.
At the meeting, YAF will present their case and ASWU will discuss the proposal.
“As far as what ASWU wants people to know, I think we just want to let people have a discussion and feel heard from all sides,” Shearer said.
Sophomore David Martin is on ASWU as a senator for Duvall Hall.
“In Duvall specifically, I have heard some people who are excited to have someone as famous as Ben [on campus], and then other [people] who essentially think he is a doofus. They are like, ‘the guy might be offensive, and I don’t agree with what he has to say, but I think we should go ahead and bring him on anyways again just because of the flow of ideas moving through,’” Martin said.
However, the prospect of bringing Shapiro to campus isn’t popular with everyone.
“Bringing Ben Shapiro to campus would go against Whitworth’s mission of producing well-rounded and perspective-taking students because he is not someone who values people and their livelihood,” says senior Jordan Coleman, president of the Generation Action Club. “He does not advocate for beneficial and effective conversation but instead acts by attacking others. We want speakers who aim to make positive change and create alliances, not people who tear us down,” she said.
Whitworth students looking to voice their opinion on the vote are encouraged to express their thoughts to their senators and representatives.