Story By: Jeremiah Tatola
Student members of the Young American for Freedom at the University of Southern California (USC) invited conservative commentator, Ben Shapiro, to speak on the campus.
USC hosted Shapiro’s lecture in the Bovard Auditorium at 7 p.m. on Oct. 4, resulting in people waiting in line for up to eight hours before the event just to get a seat.
Steven Hancock, a Los Angeles resident waiting in line to attend the event, explained how he felt about the event and why he drove to San Diego in order to attend.
“USC claims to be a campus that advocates for intellectual diversity, but their history of speakers indicates that they’re not…that’s the problem with universities nowadays; they like to present just one idea (the liberal ideology) and anything that challenges that idea gets shut down.”
Young American’s for Freedom’s Vice Chairmen, Shannon Hennessy, spoke about how excited she was for the event despite the challenges they were facing. “We spent $1,000 of our money towards an area for protesters to engage in their First Amendment right.”
The organizers of the event spent an additional $18,000 for extra security because they were expecting protesters.
A USC student, Elizabeth who preferred to have her last name left out, explained that she felt the speaker himself was the problem, and opposite viewpoints were not respected.
“I don’t think that the school should invite him (Shapiro). I think it’s just stirring up trouble and that most of the students disagree with his ideas.” Elizabeth said.
The trouble she mentioned, however, was not stirred by the 2,000+ conservatives and libertarians waiting in line, but the handful of protesters accusing them and Shapiro of being racists, sexists, and bigots.
“The way that they’re (YAF) framing it, it’s not really an invitation for open debate…I’ve heard that they have revoked the tickets of about twelve or so students, who expressed descent and that is just unacceptable,” Elizabeth said.
When the doors to the event were finally opened, the man of the night, Ben Shapiro took his place behind a podium at center stage.
Shapiro first addressed the accusations in full regarding people prohibited from the event stating, “The only people who were barred from coming were people who were opening stating they plan to disrupt the event in advance.”
He then proceeded to his lecture stating, “Tonight I want to talk about your freedoms and why they’re under assault,” and focused on Identity politics.”
If you’re interested in hearing the full lecture and Q&A can be viewed online on the YAFTV YouTube Channel and the protests can be seen on the YouTube Channel Fleccas Talks.