Conservative commentator Ben Shapiro to speak Jan. 24 at UConn

FILE - In this Oct. 3, 2017 photo, conservative writer Ben Shapiro speaks during the first of several legislative hearings planned to discuss balancing free speech and public safety in Sacramento, Calif. A University of Connecticut Republican student group has invited Shapiro to speak on Jan. 24, 2018, on campus in Storrs, Conn. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File)

Conservative speaker Ben Shapiro’s discussion “Say No to Campus Thuggery” is now set for Jan. 24 at 7 p.m. with the location still in the works, according to University of Connecticut College Republicans president Tim Sullivan.

Shapiro was invited to campus by the UConn College Republicans after a past incident at conservative speaker Lucian Wintrich’s discussion in November. This upcoming event is now subject to a review process by the university’s updated policy for speakers on campus.

Sullivan, an eighth-semester economics and political science major, said he hopes the upcoming event will spread reliable information about the Republican party to all sectors of UConn.

“Our purpose for inviting Mr. Shapiro to campus is to promote intellectual diversity that is lacking in many circles on our campus,” Sullivan said. “We hope to expose members of our community to diverse viewpoints that they may not have had the chance to grapple with during the course of their regular academic career.”

Marc Moshe, an eighth-semester economics major and member of the UConn College Republicans, said he anticipates substantial political exchanges as well. He said he believes that Shapiro’s political expertise and public speaking proficiency will change liberal mindsets in the same way Shapiro’s works did for him.

“I like Ben Shapiro. I agree with almost everything he says,” Moshe said.  “He’s a mainstream conservative and nothing too off the pale. He’s right about almost everything and he’s very good at tackling the far left. He was one of the few people who converted me from liberal to conservative.”

While members of the UConn College Republicans are eager for Shapiro’s presentation, sixth-semester physiology and neurobiology and psychology major Omar Taweh is hesitant about Shapiro’s credibility.

Taweh, who was a leader in the counterprotest against Wintrich’s appearance on campus, said that while he acknowledges the UConn College Republicans established the Shapiro event prior to Wintrich’s appearance, he is not going to be “defending them.”

“[Coming from] the protestors, we disagree with the majority of what Shapiro says but we are not [as of now] going to protest him,” Taweh said.

Taweh said that even though he does not agree with the conservative messages, he does admit that Shapiro is better informed than Wintrich.

“The difference between Shapiro and Wintrich is [that] Wintrich is not educated in political science or human rights,” Taweh said. “He is not educated in what he talks about. I’m not going to give Shapiro more credit than he deserves, but he does have some expertise.”

Both Taweh and Sullivan said they hope for a more peaceful outcome than was seen at the Wintrich event.

“I am extremely excited to have a principled conservative come to campus, and I hope many students come to the event to take part in the exchange of ideas,” Sullivan said.


Lillian Whittaker is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at lillian.whittaker@uconn.edu.