The University of Minnesota pushed Ben Shapiro and conservative students to St. Paul to avoid protests and other disruptions, completely succumbing to the heckler's veto. When the taxpayers started asking questions, the University and President Kaler called us liars at an impromptu press conference and published our emails without our consent. We used those emails to dismantle the University’s claims. Then, the University of Minnesota’s Department of Equity and Diversity encouraged their Women’s Center to host a counter event (on the Minneapolis campus) titled “White Supremacy in the Age of Trump: An Anti-Racist Teach-In,” which claimed Ben Shapiro was a white supremacist Trump supporter when he is actually an orthodox Jew who did not vote for Trump. The event ran directly before Shapiro’s speech so that the students could attend the protest afterward. It would seem as though the University of Minnesota made every effort possible to highlight their distaste for conservatives, but they made one last, embarrassing attempt to paint conservative students as liars.
While Shapiro’s speech did see protesters, it was nowhere near the protests the University expected. There were around 30 protesters who could barely get it together enough to chant about racists, let alone pose a real threat. They were peacefully expressing their First Amendment right (except when they tried to dox attendees after the speech ended). The cop to protester ratio was at least 2 to 1. It was clear that the University forced us into a small venue out of fear, but their fears did not come to fruition.
This is where university official Mike Miller comes into play. As he stated during the question and answer portion of the event, Miller was the chair of the College Republicans (1999-2000) when he attended the University of Minnesota and now works as an advocacy coordinator for the University’s government relations.
Miller did not reserve a ticket (even though our group offered him one) but forced his way into the event by claiming he was there as part of the University staff. Upon entering the event, Miller confronted CFACT advisor Bill Gilles. Miller came with two pages in hand and claimed that they were the two pages of lies told by YAF and the student groups hosting the event. It is unclear which university official was sent to fact check the “White Supremacy in the Age of Trump: An Anti-Racist Teach-In.”
During the question and answer section, Miller confronted Shapiro to get answers about the event planning (as if we have been working directly with him instead of his team). Miller stated, “You were given the largest available room on campus… I have the emails to back that up.”
While it is not typical of a university official to participate in the Q&A section of an event, we ensured that Miller would get to ask his question because we knew it would be layered with the same dishonesty that the University has been peddling for months. We already dismantled the emails that the university released without our consent in a previous article, but Miller made an additional claim that the St. Paul Student Center was the largest available venue. That is not true and unfortunately for Mr. Miller, we have the screenshots to back that up. Willey Hall has a room available for 696 students. The adjacent room has seating for 360. Willey Hall is set up so that the divider between the room can be pulled resulting in space for 1,056 students. We filled the St. Paul Student Center with 449 students and our waitlist had 463 people on it (which does not include people discouraged by the event selling out or the people we could have reached if we had advertised). Miller’s grandstanding in an attempt to humiliate conservative students resulted in nothing but further embarrassment for the University.
It must be stated that Miller thinks he is “on the same team” as conservatives. He makes this claim because he ran a College Republican. If the conservative “team” includes someone who berates students because they stood for free speech, then that is not a team of which CFACT or Students for a Conservative Voice want to be members.
Miller’s actions were unique, but not surprising. The University of Minnesota cannot remove itself from the cycle of the leftist narrative. They blamed the location of our event on safety. What they fail to realize is that the safety concerns are their fault. Hours after the speech ended, the University tweeted, “In response to recent questions, we want to reiterate that #UMN is dedicated to the promotion of free speech. A student who has been suspended for participation in a lawful protest would not be required to report such activities in their application for admission.”
This tweet is ridiculous for two reasons. First, a student would not be suspended for a protest unless they broke the law. Second, they are encouraging anti-free speech proto-terrorists to attend the University. If anyone was curious as to why the police to protester ratio was greater than 2:1, that is why.
Universities across the country painted conservative ideas as not just wrong, but violent - so violent that students needed safe spaces to seek protection from conservative ideas. Then universities acted surprised when “violent ideas” were met with real violence from campus leftists. The inaction by the University of Minnesota to punish bridge vandals or student groups like SDS that dox and threaten conservative students created a breeding ground for fascism. Instead of dealing with that, the University hosted a “teach-in” to call conservatives racists and sent “Cannonball” Mike Miller into the event to spread more lies about students.
Of course, President Kaler is sticking to the narrative that the University stands for free speech by releasing a statement saying, “Our principles say that we strive to sustain an open exchange of ideas in an environment that embodies the values of academic freedom, responsibility, integrity and cooperation. We give life to those principles in an atmosphere of mutual respect, free from racism, sexism, and other forms of prejudice and intolerance. As a community, we have an opportunity to put these principles into practice today when Ben Shapiro comes to speak on our Twin Cities campus. He was invited to speak by students who are part of a registered student group. As is our policy, I support their right to invite a speaker of their choice.”
It must be in a University President handbook that whenever one addresses conservative groups or speakers, it must be within one sentence of the words “racism, sexism, and other forms of prejudice and intolerance” because it happens without fail.
The University of Minnesota will join universities across the nation in sticking to the talking point that they are in favor of ideological diversity all while doing the absolute minimum to ensure that is true. Two days after Mr. Shapiro spoke in Minnesota, he went down to Creighton University and spoke in a stadium to nearly 2,000 students. The same could have been done in Minnesota.