YAF Sues UMN Over Censorship of Shapiro Lecture

The lawsuit targets top-level UMN officials who played an active role in limiting the venue and size for the YAF-sponsored Ben Shapiro lecture.

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CreditL Gage Skidmore

MINNEAPOLIS – Young America’s Foundation (YAF) filed a lawsuit against the University of Minnesota (UMN) Tuesday following revelations that top-level administrators actively engaged in “viewpoint-based censorship.”

“Administrators’ discriminatory treatment of conservatives—quarantining Shapiro and a limited number of students who wished to hear his ideas to a remote area of the St. Paul Campus—was a result of administrators’ disagreement with the viewpoint of Shapiro’s speech.” YAF spokesperson Spencer Brown said in a press release announcing the lawsuit.

Internal emails recently obtained by YAF reveal top-level UMN administrators actively censored an event featuring conservative commentator Ben Shapiro earlier this year. The emails, YAF says, proves the school’s speech suppression policy “permits administrators to wield unbridled discretion to suppress student speech that administrators dislike.”

Shapiro and Students for a Conservative Voice (SCV), the student group who helped coordinate the Shapiro lecture, have joined YAF’s First Amendment lawsuit.

“Young America’s Foundation remains committed to holding administrators accountable for their censorship of conservative students at the University of Minnesota and across the country,” Brown said.

The lawsuit targets top-level UMN officials who played an active role in limiting the venue and size for the Shapiro lecture, including University of Minnesota President Eric W. Kaler, Vice President of University Services Michael Berthelsen, Chief of University of Minnesota Police Department Matthew A. Clark, UMPD Lieutenant Troy Buhta, and Assistant Director of Student Unions & Activities Erik Dussault.

“The free and open exchange of ideas is critical to a student’s education, but the University of Minnesota is depriving its student body of an intellectually diverse learning environment,” Brown added.

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