UMN hosts press conference surrounding Ben Shapiro rumors

A press conference at Northrop Friday afternoon addressed rumors about the location for the conservative speaker.

Commentator Ben Shapiro speaks at the 2016 Politicon at the Pasadena Convention Center on June 26, 2016 in Pasadena, California.

Image by Gage Skidmore/Creative Commons

Commentator Ben Shapiro speaks at the 2016 Politicon at the Pasadena Convention Center on June 26, 2016 in Pasadena, California.

by Eliana Schreiber

Controversy over the location of a conservative speaker prompted University of Minnesota officials to call a press conference to clear the air Friday afternoon.

The University held the conference at Northrop Auditorium to explain why Ben Shapiro, a prominent conservative scheduled to speak Feb. 26, would be hosted on the St. Paul campus later this month.

At the conference, University Relations Vice President Matt Kramer said the decision came after a lengthy process of working with students from all three student groups involved — Students for a Conservative Voice, Collegians for a Constructive Tomorrow and Minnesota Students for Liberty.

Kramer specifically addressed rumors that came up during Super Bowl LII that St. Paul is not as important as Minneapolis.

“I have seen remarks that St. Paul is ‘exile,’” he said. “St. Paul campus is integral to the University of Minnesota. It is no different than the East Bank or the West Bank campus.”

Kramer said the North Star Ballroom in St. Paul was chosen because it met size and security requirements.

He added that many of the larger venues on the Minneapolis campus were unavailable due to prescheduled classes or other events.

Additionally, Kramer dismissed rumors that the University has an anti-conservative bias.

In the past year, the University hosted conservative speakers Lauren Southern and Charlie Kirk with full support from the University of Minnesota Police Department to protect attendees and protesters, he said.

UMPD Lieutenant Troy Buhta was also available at the conference to answer questions related to security concerns surrounding Shapiro’s talk.

Despite the University’s reasons for the event’s location, students from conservative student groups on campus expressed frustration.

Madison Faupel, a member of College Republicans and Collegians for a Constructive Tomorrow, said while she is sympathetic to security concerns, she wishes the groups could have secured a spot at one of the buildings on the Minneapolis campus.

“The police want to stay safe, they want us to stay safe, they want the protesters to be safe. I get that and I understand that,” Faupel said. “But I think that they could do that on this campus.”