College conservatives are certainly not strangers to the hostility of administrations and the general university population. CSULA’S Young America’s Foundation event that featured conservative writer Ben Shapiro showed just that. Earlier this week, CSULA President William Covino cancelled the event, claiming that “after careful consideration, I have decided that it will be best for our campus community if we reschedule Ben Shapiro’s appearance for a later date, so that we can arrange for him to appear as part of a group of speakers with differing viewpoints on diversity.” The event was opposed by sociology professor Dr. Robert Weide and Black Lives Matters activist Melina Abdullah.
In his typically bold spirit, Shapiro said he was coming anyway. On the day of the event, Covino caved to “allow” Shapiro to speak. Naturally, protesters were primed and ready to go.
I actually had the opportunity to attend the lecture, and had been planning to do so from the moment I heard about it. Shapiro’s been a hero of mine since I was in high school, so I could not let opportunity pass. When it came time for the event to go off, it was a hot California day. A friend and I drove up from our campus in Irvine, CA to see news crews lined up along the main campus drive. The main activity was not visible from the street, but we found it soon enough.
As soon as we got into the line, you could hear chanting “No violence!” “Go home!” and of course, “Black Lives Matter!” Since we RSVP’d to the event, we were able to find the gracious and bold members of CSULA’s YAF chapter, who were able to escort us and a few others around the back side of the building to the auditorium. The remaining attendees followed similar protocol. Apparently, RSVPing saved us a lot of trouble: others attendees informed me that they were spit on, called horrible names, and even punched by protesters. What thuggery.
Once we got into the event, Shapiro made a point to check out the “fascist” activity outside. He finally was able to start his talk, which was very insightful! You can watch it here. You’ll notice that the protesters were determined to undermine the event: the fire alarm was pulled shortly into the lecture, but Shapiro refused to evacuate. Frankly, I would have refused, too.
After the lecture and Q&A session, attendees were barred from leaving for fear that protesters would rush the room. They had gathered outside the back door, and were already in the lobby of the lecture hall. There wasn’t much we could do at that point, so we waited, essentially being held hostage. Thankfully, the police kept a watchful eye on the situation and carefully mapped out our exit so that everyone could leave safely.
Covino’s actions have officially come home to roost, as students are now calling for his resignation.
I want to thank the Young America’s Foundation, particularly the CSULA chapter for their resolution and patience in hosting the event. I also want to thank Ben Shapiro for all he’s done for conservatives, and for risking his well-being to speak–he had to leave through a secret entrance with a full police escort. It is people like him that inspire young conservatives to get involved and help preserve this country.