Prominent conservative and Daily Wire Editor-in-Chief Ben Shapiro made the trip to the University of Connecticut in Storrs on a chilly Wednesday night to give a speech on a predominantly liberal college campus in the northeast — much to the dismay of some of the students.
Shapiro’s presence was met — naturally — with protests. This did not stop him from speaking, however.
During his speech, he touched on a range of issues, including the dangers of socialism, identity politics and shutting down free speech. He also spoke of biology as it pertains to abortion and transgender folks — along with how capitalism has improved the quality of life for all Americans.
Thanks to capitalism and innovation, Shapiro noted, “A poor person in the United States today is living better than a rich person in the 1920s.”
After his speech, Shapiro appeared on Fox News’ “The Ingraham Angle” to talk with host Laura Ingraham about his experience at UConn.
“Tonight — thank God — was relatively calm,” he said about the campus protests. “I think a lot of that had to do with the fact that the university did its job to get its security out there. Part of it had to do with the fact that it was cold,” he added. “These are fair-weather protesters; they’re not going to protest when it’s 30 degrees out. And part of it was that attendance was limited. If you were from an outside group, you weren’t allowed to come.”
Shapiro said he was in a venue with seats for about 500 people — and that the university turned away an additional 600-700 people. Shapiro was not happy the event was not open to the public.
“Something has to be done about a system where a few crazed leftists decide they don’t want to hear someone speak and therefore people from the outside who pay taxes to universities like this one can’t get in,” he said Wednesday night.
“It’s a great thing that universities have people like me — and yes — like the person speaking opposite me on this campus to give a variation of ideas,” he added.
UConn faced sharp criticism before the event when it announced it would be offering “counseling” for any students offended by Shapiro’s conservative beliefs and his appearance on campus. Earlier this month, Joelle Murchison, the university’s associate vice president and chief diversity officer, sent a letter to students offering counseling services to those who were distressed by Shapiro’s upcoming visit — perpetuating a climate of victimhood on campus.
“We understand that even the thought of an individual coming to campus with the views that Mr. Shapiro expresses can be concerning and even hurtful, and that’s why we wanted to make you aware as soon as we were informed,” Murchison wrote.
“In the meantime,” she added in her note, “please utilize the many campus resources available to you should you want to talk through your feelings about this issue, including my office, the Cultural Centers, the Dean of Students Office, and Counseling and Mental Health Services (CMHS), if necessary.”
All of this is in stark contrast to an event featuring Anita Hill recently — which was advertised as “free and open to the public,” according to an article in Campus Reform.
“If you need to seek mental health counseling because you hear that I’m coming to [your] campus, you probably need to seek mental health counseling for a number of other issues that you have.”
“It can’t be that scary for [liberals on campus] just to hear a conservative speak,” Ingraham said to Shapiro last night about his UConn appearance.
“If you need to seek mental health counseling because you hear that I’m coming to [your] campus,” he replied, “you probably need to seek mental health counseling for a number of other issues that you have.”
As for the new review policy at UConn, it’s just one more example of bias against conservatives in academic settings across the country — from Berkeley, to Northwestern, to California State University, Los Angeles.
Just ask Shapiro.
“There are a bunch of campuses now where the administration says, ‘We’re happy to have conservative speakers, but we’re not going to allow people to actually come and hear this,'” he said last night.
Tom Joyce is a freelance writer from the South Shore of Massachusetts. He covers sports, pop culture, and politics and has contributed to The Federalist, Newsday, ESPN, and other outlets. Elizabeth Economou is a freelance writer based in Seattle, Washington. Follow her on Twitter.