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Ben Shapiro finally allowed to speak at Gonzaga U — but venue is 'not cheap' for College Republicans

The school said the student group 'agreed to an event location and protocol that will provide a more appropriate level of safety and security for this event'

Image source: YouTube screenshot

Gonzaga University last fall rejected a proposal to bring conservative commentator Ben Shapiro to its Washington state campus to speak, citing the Catholic school's "mission based on the teachings of Christ Jesus" as part of the reason.

But after the school's College Republicans appealed, Gonzaga President Thayne McCulloh told them he's granting permission for Shapiro to speak on campus this spring, according to the Gonzaga website.

However, there's apparently a catch that may hit the group's bank account harder than expected.

The school said the College Republicans "agreed to an event location and protocol that will provide a more appropriate level of safety and security for this event."

The College Republicans put it a little more plainly on their Facebook page, noting that the venue will be at McCarthey Athletic Center, and "as you all know, McCarthey is not cheap — we desperately need your support. Feel free to message us and we would love to have a conversation about donating!"

Other colleges have issued pricey security fees related to Shapiro appearances:

  • The University of Pittsburgh in January agreed to waive an additional $5,546 security fee it charged following a Shapiro appearance there in November 2018 — after Young America's Foundation hired a law firm to challenge the fee, KDKA-TV reported.
  • The University of California, Los Angeles, administration walked back a security charge issued to the Bruin College Republicans in the fall 2017 after the student group announced its plans to host Shapiro on campus, the Washington Examiner reported.
  • The University of California, Berkeley, charged the school's College Republicans a $15,000 security fee to host Shapiro in the fall 2017 despite a liberal group paying only $5,000 in fees at the same venue when it hosted Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the YAF said. A lawsuit was filed, the Washington Times reported, and a federal judge rejected Berkeley's attempts to dismiss the suit before a settlement was reached in December costing the school $70,000.

What's the background on Shapiro's appearance at Gonzaga?

"Mr. Shapiro's appearances routinely draw protests that include extremely divisive and hateful speech and behavior, which is offensive to many people regardless of their age, politics, or beliefs," Judi Biggs Garbuio, the school's vice president of student development, noted last fall in a response to an event request, Campus Reform reported.

She added that Gonzaga "is committed to the human dignity of every individual. This is the core of our mission based on the teachings of Christ Jesus and the foundations of the Society of Jesus. We stand in solidarity with vulnerable members of our community who may be targeted for discrimination, ridicule, or harassment by others," the outlet said.

Shapiro — who is Jewish — last December told Seattle-based conservative radio host Jason Rantz that Gonzaga "is a private school" so "they can do what they want. But by the same token, if you are worried about your student body being exposed to interesting ideas because people are going to protest, all this does is create an incentive for people to protest and make trouble."

And to top it off

There's also that whole deal with Grand Canyon University — the largest Christian university in the United States — last week blocking Shapiro from speaking on campus as part of an upcoming YAF event.

"It was not our intent to disappoint or offend anyone," the school said in a statement explaining its actions. "It was, rather, to use our position as a Christian university to bring unity to a community that sits amidst a country that is extremely divided and can't seem to find a path forward toward unity."

(H/T: The College Fix)

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