The University of Minnesota has lost a major donor over its handling of an on-campus lecture by conservative commentator Ben Shapiro.

Shapiro’s speech, which was organized by Young America’s Foundation, was supposed to take place on the university's main Minneapolis campus on February 26.

When event organizers attempted to reserve a lecture hall that had previously been used by liberal speakers like former Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), their requests were denied.


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University officials cited safety concerns over potential protests. In September, Shapiro spoke at the University of California’s Berkeley campus, which drew hundreds of protesters and led to several arrests.

Shapiro ended up speaking at a smaller venue in the St. Paul Student Center several miles away, where he was met by a standing-room-only crowd and a few dozen peaceful protesters outside.

Some people said it was an example of anti-conservative bias by the school.

In protest, an anonymous university donor pulled their annual contribution and will instead give the money to the on-campus chapter of Young America's Foundation.

In a letter to University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler, the donor wrote this was "clearly a case of discrimination":

I believe the treatment of Ben Shapiro was clearly a case of discrimination. It was not discrimination by race or gender. It was more damaging than that. You have discriminated against the free dissemination of ideas.

The question then becomes why you discriminate against conservative thought. My simple theory is that the administration and faculty of our major bodies of higher education are fearful. They are fearful that once people like Ben Shapiro speak about their conservative ideas, the students will begin to understand a simple fact. It is the fact that they have been exposed to only one way of thinking and thus will be furious over having spent so much time and money only to find out that they have been essentially brainwashed.

Because of this, I have decided to give my annual contribution for scholarship at the U of M to the Young Americans for Freedom.

An excellent example of how much damage you have done; I am not signing my name for fear of political retaliation.

YAF spokesperson Spencer Brown praised the donor's decision and said it's important to take a stand against an institution that "undermines and discriminates against conservatives":

We applaud this patriotic American’s decision to withhold support from an institution that undermines and discriminates against conservatives. Such a decision is an important first step in giving students a full, ideologically diverse education that includes conservative ideas. It’s a tragedy that this once-proud alumnus of the University of Minnesota has been abandoned by his alma mater. With the meaningful support of individuals such as the author of this letter, Young America’s Foundation is able to continue the vital work of holding schools accountable, including through YAF’s First Amendment lawsuit against the University of California, Berkeley.


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