University of Minnesota statement on Ben Shapiro's visit

February 8, 2018

The assertion that the University of Minnesota has "downgraded" or "relegated" the upcoming event featuring Ben Shapiro based on ideological or any other reasons is patently false. It is also absolutely untrue that organizers were not sufficiently involved in the event planning. The University is committed to free speech. 

The University's focus is to ensure the event can actually take place while also ensuring public safety. The event will occur on our St. Paul campus -- one of three locations that make up the University's Twin Cities campus. It is home to classes, research, events, and student housing, and it is easily accessible via car, bus, or campus transit. It is not at all located in a remote location despite some claims. 

To plan this event, student leaders with Students for a Conservative Voice and Collegians for a Constructive Tomorrow worked with Student Activities staff and the University's police department to determine a space that would accommodate the 400-500 people the groups anticipated would attend, while allowing for sufficient security to ensure the event could proceed. Multiple options were reviewed, including the Mayo Auditorium, Willey Hall Auditorium and Ted Mann Concert Hall. For a variety of reasons, these venues were not available on this date or suitable for the event, and the St. Paul location was agreed to. Despite the claims of some, this event was never planned to be held in another venue and it was not moved. 

The University hosts a wide variety of events, welcoming tens of thousands of people to the Twin Cities campus every day. We strive to meet the unique needs 
for each and every event, and the event scheduled for later this month is no different. When working to accommodate a venue request, our top priority is and will always be the safety and security of our University community, and with that in mind the University works with organizers to determine a location that meets everyone's needs to the best of our ability.

Twice last fall we successfully hosted speakers considered to have a conservative point of view on our West Bank campus (selected based on the same criteria used to find the best location for this upcoming event). In both of the previous events, the University was able to enable the speakers to present their ideas without interruption to completion while also enabling protesters to have their say - all while providing for the safety of all involved. That outcome remains our goal.