(UPDATED February 6: In Reversal, Grand Canyon University Invites Ben Shapiro to Campus.)
Grand Canyon University, a private Christian college, has declined to provide a venue for a speech by right-wing commentator Ben Shapiro, the conservative youth organization Young America’s Foundation (YAF) reported on Friday.
Shapiro tweeted a link to a YAF announcement of the news:
Another day, another university ban https://t.co/b9Z2Atmdi3— Ben Shapiro (@benshapiro) February 1, 2019
Shapiro — a former Breitbart editor who currently serves as head of the Daily Wire — has drawn protests during appearances on some campuses. Several universities or colleges, including Gonzaga, DePaul, and Cal State Long Beach, have cancelled or blocked speeches from Shapiro over "safety concerns"
GCU students met with school administrators on Thursday over Shapiro's planned appearance, according to a blog post by YAF spokesperson Spencer Brown. School officials said Shapiro "instigates a divisive atmosphere" and that his appearance on campus "would not be good for the school long-term."
It's unclear whether Brown was paraphrasing GCU officials or quoting them directly. Brown also said in the blog post that GCU officials told students they were concerned specifically about what Shapiro may say about Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and immigration. He did not respond to request for comment.
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Shapiro has developed a massive following in recent years, thanks in part to television appearances and YouTube clips. He has attracted scorn for his views on race and transgender people.
"We believe in many of the things that Ben Shapiro speaks about and stands for, including his support for ideals that grow out of traditional Judeo-Christian values and his belief in a free market economy," GCU said later in its statement. "Our decision to cancel Shapiro’s speaking engagement is not a reflection of his ideologies or the values he represents, but rather a desire to focus on opportunities that bring people together."
After reciting its history and values, the school continued that its decision had upset some people in the GCU community, but would upset people either way.
"It was not our intent to disappoint or offend anyone. It was, rather, to use our position as a Christian university to bring unity to a community that sits amidst a country that is extremely divided and can’t seem to find a path forward toward unity."