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UConn accused of bias in the handling of the conservative speaker

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UConn the implementation of a review of Ben Shapiro speech

UConn College Republicans President Tim Sullivan says the university is applying a double standard when it comes to conservative speakers.

A, no later than Wednesday evening by a conservative speaker, and has led to a free speech controversy at the University of Connecticut, the processing of the event has been slammed as both prejudiced and overzealous.

Ben Shapiro, a political commentator and author whose 2013 book “Bullies: How the Left’s Culture of Fear and Intimidation Silences Americans,” was a New York Times bestseller, will speak at the invitation of a campus Republican group.

But the university approved the group’s request for the Shapiro appearance only after the holding of a so-called pre-event review process that has led to the decision to restrict access to the event, and even offer guidance to students who might be offended by.

And earlier this month, is an official school dashed off an e-mail to the students, and point out that Shapiro was to appear, adding that “even the thought of an individual coming to the campus with the views that Mr. Shapiro expression can be about and even offensive.”

Republican groups of students, and Young America’s Foundation, a national group that dealt with Shapiro’s lectures in the whole country, at the expense of the university action in the run-up to his appearance were overzealous, and biased against the conservatives.

“What we saw with their review process that they are subject to this teacher was restrictions on who could attend — students and professors – where it can take place, there is a guest list,” says Spencer Brown, the spokesman of the Young America’s Foundation. “It is a frivolous level of restrictions.”

Brown said the liberal speakers at UConn, not under the same level of control. He said that a recent speech by Anita Hill, the lawyer and scholar who in 1991 testified about sexual harassment before a senate committee hearing on the nomination of Clarence Thomas to the Supreme court of the V. S., were dealt with by the executive officials much else. In Hill’s case, the university is both supportive, and opened her appearance to the public, said Brown.

It is a frivolous level of restrictions. College campuses for a long time have gotten away with indoctrination places for the leftists.

– Spencer Brown, the spokesman of the Young America’s Foundation

College campuses for a long time have gotten away with indoctrination places for leftists,” Brown told Fox News. “The diversity officer e-mail conditioned people to react negatively to opposing ideas.”

Last year, the University of California, Berkeley came under fire by Republicans and conservatives as executive vice-chancellor, Paul Alivisatos, insisted that, in anticipation of a scheduled lecture by Shapiro, students and faculty members seek guidance.

Spencer Brown, the spokesman of the Young America’s Foundation

(With thanks to Spencer Brown)

University of Connecticut officials maintain that they do not discriminate on the basis of political ideology. They told reporters that they decided to have a review process after a talk with the title “It’s O. K. White” last November by the conservative commentator Lucian Wintrich ended in a scuffle after a member of the audience tore down the speaker’s notes from the lectern, and then Wintrich picked her up to pick up his papers. The woman, Catherine Gregory, an advisor at a community college, was arrested and charged with larceny and disorderly conduct.

College officials say it is easier to hold the members of the public responsible if they limit crowd sizes, and other conditions.

In a statement to Fox News, college spokeswoman Stephanie Reitz said, “UConn recently also the planning of the event review procedures to better ensure that the First Amendment rights of all invited guests, members of the public at their events and others are respected and protected.”

Questions about the controversial e-mail by the college diversity officer, Joelle Murchison, warning the students about Shapiro and the description of the event, as understandably offensive, I said, “A problem that is seen in the course of the pre-event reviews, or there might be protesters at the site, or students who disagree with a speaker to be aware of the ways to express themselves peacefully.”

“In this case, we sent an informational e-mail to a small part of the students to let them know of the upcoming event,” Reitz said. “It’s not a ‘warning’, as it is described by some. It is just a way to ensure that UConn students learn from on-campus programs or services if they want to talk with others about their views.”

Asked whether the college has taken similar steps with students who would be able to find events with liberal speakers disturbing, I said it. “It’s part of the review and, in fact, the university specifically reached to the College Republicans about Nathan Robinson’s visit for the same reason,” she said.

New Orleans public defender Robinson will speak Wednesday evening at a counter-event, at the invitation of UConn the Democratic students club. His speech with the title, “Ben Shapiro is not as insightful as he thinks he is.”

The procedures are intended to provide an objective planning tool to help ensure that events can take place without interruptions or problems with the safety, and not on the basis of a speaker’s political ideology.

– Stephanie Reitz, spokeswoman for the University of Connecticut

Shapiro, a former Breitbart editor and editor-in-chief of the conservative news and commentary site on The Daily Thread, the challenges to the approach of a number of lectures for his events. The liberal tendencies of the colleges is, in fact, one of his themes.

In a college speech, he brought along a diaper and said that it was for “self-indulgent pitiful children who can’t handle someone with an opposite opinion.”

It is not just the conservatives who face the challenge of the tensions that arise in the lectures on controversial speakers. Many First Amendment experts are looking to the campus in the fight over speakers, such as Shapiro with care.

Brookings Institution senior fellow John Villasenor conducted a survey on the freedom of expression last year of 1,500 college and university students and found an overwhelming intolerance of people who express opposing views.

A majority, or 62 percent of Democrats, and 39 percent of Republicans, said that it was acceptable to shout down the speaker.

A fifth of the respondents said that they agreed with the use of physical violence to silence a speaker who makes “insulting and offensive statements.”

A surprisingly large part of the students find it acceptable to act—including resorting to violence to shut down of expression that they consider offensive. And a majority of the students seem to want an environment that shields them to be exposed to views they might find offensive.

– John Villasenor, senior fellow, Brookings Institution

Elizabeth Llorente is a Senior Reporter for FoxNews.com and can be reached at Elizabeth.Llorente@Foxnews.com. Follow her on Twitter @Liz_Llorente.

 

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