UPDATE (2/7/2019, 3:50 p.m.): One day after Ben Shapiro turned down an invitation by Grand Canyon University to speak, the school announced he will give a talk after all on April 10. Shapiro had said he would not speak at GCU unless the school agreed to host the event with the Young Americas Foundation (YAF). The college had previously accused YAF of giving a misleading account of events that led administrators to reject an initial request for the school to host a Shapiro speech. On Thursday, YAF president Spencer Brown tweeted an agreement signed Wednesday by the organization and GCU to bring Shapiro to campus.
BREAKING: @GCU signed @YAF’s contract and we’re moving forward to bring @benshapiro to campus with @GCUYAF1776 through our exclusive Fred Allen Lecture Series. Ticketing and other details to follow. pic.twitter.com/b42teF2FPY— Spencer Brown (@itsSpencerBrown) February 7, 2019
Original story follows:
Amid uproar over its decision to block right-wing commentator Ben Shapiro from speaking on campus, the private Christian college has reversed course, extending an invitation to Shapiro to give a talk this spring.
GCU announced the decision on Tuesday in a press release.
The release also accused Young America’s Foundation (YAF) — a national conservative organization — of spreading “misleading and false information” about the circumstances that led to the initial prohibition of Shapiro’s speech. Shapiro indicated on Wednesday that he will not commit to speaking at GCU unless "YAF brings to GCU."
GCU claims that YAF announced Shapiro as a speaker at the GCU on December 11 without following the usual protocol, in which a committee of students, faculty, and staff reviews a request for a speaker and delivers a recommendation to president Brian Mueller.
The GCU chapter of YAF made a request for Shapiro to speak on the same day as the announcement. That request was eventually denied, after the committee recommended against bringing Shapiro to campus. According to GCU, students expressed concern that Shapiro "would bring a feeling of divisiveness to the campus based on some of his previous speaking appearances.”
YAF announced on Friday that Shapiro was blocked from GCU’s campus. Shapiro, who has nearly 2 million followers on Twitter, retweeted a YAF blog post condemning the decision.
Supporters of Shapiro then criticized the college on social media, decrying the decision to block him as a betrayal of GCU’s Christian, conservative students.
On Monday, according to the statement, GCU met with representatives from both the national YAF organization and the school’s YAF chapter. Administrators offered to invite Shapiro to campus, but could not agree with YAF on the language of a press release.
In its own statement, YAF blamed GCU administrators for the breakdown.
"They criticized students for having the audacity to publicly question the school’s ban on Shapiro. They even tried to use the Shapiro lecture as leverage to coerce conservative students into releasing a statement publicly praising the university,” wrote YAF president Spencer Brown.
Shapiro on Wednesday tweeted that he is siding with YAF.
Re: GCU's speech offer, I have worked with YAF and YAF students for years. I will not go around the hard working, dedicated YAF students at GCU; I'll go to GCU when YAF brings me to GCU.— Ben Shapiro (@benshapiro) February 6, 2019
Shapiro has been blocked from speaking at colleges in the past, including at the University of California, Berkeley, Gonzaga University, and Cal State Long Beach. In those instances, school officials cited “safety concerns” related to potential protests.
The episode at GCU differs because the Phoenix college has a largely conservative student body, while the aforementioned schools enroll more liberal students.
Shapiro, a former Breitbart editor and current head of the Daily Wire, has attracted a large following in recent years. He has come under criticism for his views on race and transgender people.
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