The University of Minnesota has consistently failed to discipline disrupters of conservative programming, including in its handling of an upcoming Ben Shapiro event, said a student organizer of the speech.
Administrators relegated the Feb. 26 program to a 400-person center at the St. Paul satellite, rather than allowing Shapiro to speak at a larger venue on the main campus, due to security concerns, said Madison Dibble, president of Students for a Conservative Voice, one of the organizations behind the Feb. 26 program.
"The security risk exists because of their [administrators] refusal to punish students who disrupt events, who regularly silence and intimidate conservative students on campus," said Dibble. "It is easier to send us father away, to let us be exiled, rather than punishing those who try to violently shut down our programs."
Dibble said administrators have not tried to put an end to repeated harassment of conservative students, including the annual vandalism of murals by conservative clubs at a campus-wide painting event.
Last fall, a student admitted to defacing the College Republicans' mural, but there is no evidence she was disciplined.
Similarly, when a 2016 talk between writer Christina Hoff Sommers and alt-right sympathizer Milo Yiannopolous was derailed by student protesters, hecklers were escorted from the lecture space, but there is no evidence of subsequent disciplinary action.
An October appearance by Canadian conservative Lauren Southern brought out hundreds of protesters, with university police breaking out pepper spray and making one arrest. There has been no word on further action by the university against those behind the violent demonstration.
Dibble said the fear of another such disruption at a central campus location drove the university to strike down organizers' requests for at least three other locations larger and less secluded than the St. Paul Student Center at which Shapiro will be speaking.
Senator Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.) and former Minnesota Senator Al Franken (D.) have both appeared at the 1,500-person Ted Mann Concert Hall, one of the locations pursued for Shapiro.
Minnesota officials said security issues and scheduling conflicts went into the decision, and that organizers, including Dibble's group and Collegians for a Constructive Tomorrow, were consulted.
The university did not respond to inquiries about their past treatment of disruptive incidents or the security plans for the Shapiro program.
"It's not my fault that people on the Left promote the possibility of violence at my events. Potential attendees shouldn't pay the price for the heckler's veto," Shapiro wrote in on Twitter.
The Young America's Foundation, which is funding Shapiro's current campus tour, has said that "of the 40+ campus lectures YAF has scheduled with Ben Shapiro, not a single one has turned to violence." Shapiro appearances last semester at the University of California-Berkley and the University of Utah both led to arrests of protesters.
Dibble supports state legislation that would reaffirm students' First Amendment rights on public campuses. The Campus Neutrality Bill, sponsored by Sen. Carla Nelson (R.) and similar to legislation introduced last month in Nebraska, demands universities install content-neutral free speech policies.
Dibble said that after repeated failures to get free speech resolutions through the Minnesota student government, involving the state legislature became conservative students' best option for reforming a campus where they find it hard to "get a fair go."