Campus Republicans are working to bring political commentator and Daily Wire editor Ben Shapiro to campus to speak.
College Republicans, a right-wing partisan student organization, says should they acquire sufficient funds and receive approval from the Student Government Association, Shapiro could speak at UMBC as early as spring 2018.
Their chairman, Jason Stein, claims the group chose to invite Shapiro to diversify thought on campus. He said, “[Shapiro] would be good to create diverse thinking on campus. We always try to create diversity on this campus, and that goes further than just origins, culture, skin color, it’s also diversity of thought.”
Shapiro, who has given talks at campuses across the country, brings commentary on national issues that past speakers, such as house of delegates candidate Brooks Bennett, have not. Shapiro may be most well-known for his controversial character, as many of his events have been subjected to protests from students.
Last month, scuffles broke out between protestors and police when Shapiro spoke at the University of California, Berkeley. Former Breitbart editor, Milo Yiannopoulos, and Republican commentator, Ann Coulter, were also invited by conservative student organizations to speak at Berkeley earlier this year, but were cancelled due to security reasons.
“I don’t think he is controversial; what makes him ‘controversial’ is that he says things that are different from what is normally said,” remarked Stein.”He creates that diversity of thought that I brought up earlier.”
While UMBC college republicans are solely a political group, Shapiro errs on the side of social conservatism. Many of his talks target recent social issues, like political correctness, the Black Lives Matter movement, and transgenderism.
For some campus groups, this type of speech may be unwelcome or unhelpful.
One group in particular, the UMBC progressives, did not seem to welcome the idea of Shapiro speaking on campus. The progressives started the previous year under a different name, UMBC Students for Bernie Sanders, but post-election used their established platform to continue distributing news to students, and transformed their presence by rebranding as UMBC Progressives.
Richard Elliot, UMBC Progressives president and senior political science major, criticizes the move to invite Shapiro as “controversial for the sake of being controversial.”
“If you think that UMBC has too much of a liberal bend, try and bring in reasonable conservatives who might actually sway people to your side with sound arguments, not conservatives who are going to come here to make some people really angry … It’s not productive for anybody, for Ben Shapiro to come here,” said Elliot.
He added that Shapiro is a “political hack, who bases his ideals off making people upset.”
For now, College Republicans still need to raise the appropriate funds in order to invite Shapiro, and then have it approved through the SGA finance board to allocate such funds.