My University Banned Ben Shapiro and I'm Embarrassed
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My University Banned Ben Shapiro, And I'm Embarrassed

Grand Canyon University's recent refusal to host Ben Shapiro is a symptom of a greater problem on campus, and I am not going to stay silent on the issue.

My University Banned Ben Shapiro, And I'm Embarrassed

Grand Canyon University is the largest Christian University in the nation. So it would come as a surprise to many to learn that they recently banned Ben Shapiro from having a speaking event on campus. The Young Americans for Freedom (YAF) chapter of GCU went through all of the formalities in order to bring Shapiro to campus but were recently denied. The YAF board members were incredibly surprised by the decision of the university's administration, especially after having little to no problems in prior speaking events with known conservatives.

GCU administration believes that hosting Shapiro would bring negative media attention to the university, and as a growing university, they did not want to risk a negative hit on the image. That backfired. Media outlets have already picked up on the decision, and are calling out GCU for their "pathetic response." It certainly appears to have been met with severe backlash, even within 24 hours. The YAF chapter is going to push for a reversal of this decision by GCU and hopes to have Shapiro on campus.

Shapiro invites the exchange of ideas.

GCU is very concerned that Shapiro is a divisive figure that will create an environment of disrespect and exclusion.

They obviously do not realize who Shapiro is. During Shapiro's lectures, he allows students to come and question his ideas and opinions, and not only that, he encourages differing opinions to be heard before agreeing ones. If a student disagrees with Shapiro, they are invited to the front of the long question lines to discuss with him. It is very entertaining, but also counter-cultural to the current political atmosphere. Shapiro has always been a proponent of thoughts being discussed, and he has put a significant emphasis on disagreeing opinions be present during his lectures. Shapiro easily could use the full lecture time push for conservative, but instead, he invites student's to challenge him in an educational and beneficial way.

So, GCU's belief that Shapiro will divide the campus is based on practically nothing. Of course, politics are inherently divisive, but does that mean that speakers should be censored? I think not. The GCU YAF received great feedback from the students on campus after the announcement of the Shapiro speaking event. In fact, the majority of students have been greatly interested in attending the event. GCU needs to understand that conservatism makes up a large part of its student body's ideologies. And the real division is coming from the administration selectively deciding who is welcome on campus based on their own views of what GCU's image should be.

Shapiro stands for Judeo-Christian values.

I can't believe that GCU, founded upon Christian values and ideals, would ban one of the largest supporters of Judeo-Christian values.

Shapiro has constantly pointed out the importance Judeo-Christian values have played in creating the foundation that America is based upon. GCU YAF used this as one of the main objections to the administration's decision to disallow Shapiro on campus.

"America was built on a fundamental idea... that human beings were created in the image of God, that we are therefore beneficiaries of inalienable God-given rights, that government was created in order to protect those rights, not invade them, and that we must use our freedom to pursue virtue." — Taken from Shapiro's lecture at Liberty University.

What exactly does the GCU administration fear about ideas related to these coming to their Christian atmosphere?

GCU is disconnected from their student body.

It seems clear to me that the administration does not understand the relation between religion and politics. Without a doubt, there are liberal students on campus and even radical leftists on campus. However, this is often not the case. GCU is interesting because it encourages involvement in spiritually-related activities, but they typically distance from political or "controversial"-related events. There is no denying that individuals that are highly involved in spiritual events typically are involved in social/political events. They go hand in hand. Now, it is true, that many students would like to ignore politics, and that's fine. But for GCU to blatantly lie to themselves about the interest in politics on their campus is ridiculous.

As a board member of the YAF chapter on campus, I have closely worked with promoting conservative speaking events. Surprisingly, every event that has been held went very well. Many students may disagree with some of the speaker's opinions, but they're not afraid to engage in political discussion, because they often experience discussions about religion. The typical GCU student welcomes ideas that vary from their own because it is a relatively diverse campus. To the administration's credit, they have promoted the inclusion of ideas, which has resulted in growth for the university. However, it appears as though they are going to discourage opinions and ideas that they deem "controversial." So I ask, why not embrace the fact that we are different from public universities?

GCU, on behalf of many students on campus, reverse this decision.

Though I vehemently disagree with the administration's handling of this situation, I still support my university. I truly believe that GCU is a great university that encourages the engagement of multiple ideas and cultures. With that in mind, I am only fueled on this issue even more. I know that critical thinking is a huge part of GCU's mission, and what better way to critically think than to invite popular conservative speakers to engage students?

Grand Canyon, don't make the wrong decision by banning Shapiro. Your student body waits to anticipate a decision that will prove many wrongs that GCU is heading in a weak, liberal, and exclusive direction.

GCU YAF will continue working with Young America's Foundation to seek a reversal of this absurd decision.

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