U of M threatened with lawsuit over venue for conservative Ben Shapiro's lecture

Ben Shapiro is due to speak before students on Monday.

What's happening?

Notable conservative editor and talking head Ben Shapiro is giving a lecture at the University of Minnesota on Monday.

Only now, the U of M is facing a lawsuit over it.

Those damn students trying to prevent free speech?

No actually, the lawsuit threat is coming from the group funding and arranging Shapiro's talking tour – the Young America's Foundation (YAF).

In a letter issued on Tuesday, it argues that Shapiro is being relegated to the U's "cow campus" in St. Paul, as he's scheduled to appear at the 400-seat St. Paul Student Center. The event is sold out.

Students for a Conservative Voice (SCV) at the U of M originally requested use of the Ted Mann Concert Hall, which has a capacity of 1,126, for Shapiro's lecture.

When that wasn't available, they asked for the 800-seat Willey Hall, only to be denied because it has access to the skyway, which presented security concerns.

"From that point forward the University only offered the Students for a Conservative Voice space on the St. Paul campus, which bares the nickname 'cow campus' because of its remoteness," the YAF letter says.

The YAF says the U of M has given amid threats of protests to Shapiro's appearance, employing a "heckler's veto" that it argues is "trampling the rights of individual students to appease the demands of the intolerant majority."

The U of M told the Star Tribune that conservative students at the U "fully participated" in selecting the St. Paul Student Center and "voiced no protest" to its police department or Office of Student Affairs when it was chosen.

Prior to Shapiro's appearance, the U of M Women's Center is sponsoring a counter-event on "white supremacy in the age of Trump," Campus Reform notes, which the YAF says was a further snub to Shapiro.

Who is Ben Shapiro?

The 34-year-old conservative commentator is currently the editor of the conservative news and opinion website The Daily Wire.

Prior to this, he was the editor-at-large at controversial conservative site Breitbart, which he left not long after revealing himself to be a #NeverTrump supporter, having backed Ted Cruz during the Republican primaries.

NYMag reports that the final straw cames when Breitbart reporter Michelle Fields was grabbed by Trump's chief of staff Corey Lewandowski during a campaign event, with Shapiro resigning in protest with Fields and criticized the direction the website was heading under Steve Bannon.

Shapiro is also the author of multiple books espousing his right-wing beliefs, including "Porn Generation: How Social Liberalism Is Corrupting Our Future," "The People vs. Barack Obama: The Criminal Case Against the Obama Administration," and the aptly titled "Brainwashed: How Universities Indoctrinate America's Youth." 

The UCLA and Harvard Law graduate became the youngest nationally syndicated columnist when he was hired by Creators Syndicate at the age of 17.

Next Up

Screen Shot 2021-06-20 at 9.21.00 AM

Updates on Minnesotans bidding for spots at the Summer Olympics

St. Paul's Suni Lee could qualify for the U.S. gymnastics team this week.

golf cart

Federal charges: Minnesota man stole 63 golf carts in 7 states

Nathan Rodney Nelson has been federally charged with transportation of stolen vehicles across state lines.

Screen Shot 2020-06-15 at 7.11.05 AM

1 dead, 1 wounded in separate St. Cloud shootings

Police say the fatal shooting was random, while in a separate incident a series of fights downtown preceded a teen's shooting.

Byron Buxton

Buxton, Kepler lead Twins to weekend sweep over Rangers

Kenta Maeda's solid outing on the mound gave the Twins a 4-2 victory.

storm, severe weather

Severe thunderstorm watch issued for south Minnesota, tornadoes possible

The watch area is just to the south of the Twin Cities.


10 injured when minivans collide, overturn in west-central Minnesota

The incident occurred at the intersection of County Road 1 and County Road 29 in Kandiyohi County.

William Carlson

Nearly 80 years later, Minnesotan honored for WWII heroism

He defended a sinking passenger ship from a U-boat.

ambulance, crash

Pedestrian fatally struck by driver in Brooklyn Park

The identity of the victim has not been released.

storm, severe weather, shelf cloud

Some storms could pack a punch Sunday afternoon

Widespread severe weather is not expected, but some storms could get feisty.


What happened at Ben Shapiro's University of Minnesota speech?

The controversial conservative speaker spoke in St. Paul on Monday.

Jewish U of M student finds Nazi messages scrawled in his dorm room

The incident has drawn widespread condemnation from students and Jewish groups.

U of M researchers identify link between e-cigarettes and cancer

E-cigs contain trace elements of a chemical that can establish in the body after inhalation.

Police: U of M student sexually assaulted in dorm room

The 19-year-old was assaulted in a student room at Bailey Hall.