Skip to main content

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

Ben Shapiro is due to speak before students on Monday.
  • Author:
  • Updated:

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

Xcel Energy Center

NHL announces make-up dates for Wild postponements

The Wild will play 40 games in the final 77 days of the regular season.

the mayo clinic - edit

Group says Mayo should be 'severely punished' over research puppy's death

The puppy died two days after undergoing a procedure at a Mayo research facility.

FLickr - minneapolis police - Tony Webster - Feb 2020 - crop

Charges: Man kidnapped woman, sexually assaulted her at gunpoint

The suspect faces three separate felony charges.

mn state capitol january 17 2021

St. Cloud 'Boogaloo Boi' who discussed attack on MN Capitol gets 2 years

He was charged with illegally possessing a machine gun.

Chris Smith

Gophers add All-Ivy League D-tackle from Harvard

Chris Smith will be eligible immediately as a graduate transfer.

school bus

High school basketball team returns from game to find bus driver dead

Members of the girls team returned to the bus to find the driver unresponsive.

covid-19 testing site sign

Minnesota AG sues COVID testing site, alleging it sent false results

Sometimes the company didn't send people their results at all, the lawsuit alleges.

optum headquarters chad davis wikimedia commons

UnitedHealth Group says it made $287B last year, $24B of it profit

The corporation's Optum business represented a significant chunk of that total.


Omicron may have already peaked in Minnesota

Reported cases lag what's happening in real time, so the newly reported cases over the next week or so will still be very high.

MnDot snow plow cam I-35 12-10-21

MnDOT reveals 50 snowplow name finalists

Voting is open through Wednesday, Jan. 26.

gov tim walz

Walz's $2.7B infrastructure plan includes $940M for climate projects

Projects will help Minnesota prevent or adapt to climate change and mitigate its impacts, the governor says.


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.

University of Minnesota

Coronavirus: U of M confirms one of MN’s COVID cases is a student

Minnesota now has 14 confirmed cases of the coronavirus.