St. Olaf Bars Speaker on Protest Anniversary

March 26, 2018

Ben Shapiro, a divisive conservative activist, was barred from speaking at St. Olaf College next month, as the date marks the first anniversary of anti-racism protests that swept the campus, the Star Tribune reported.

In May, the college canceled classes after students protested several racist notes and graffiti found on campus. St. Olaf formed a working group to address the incident.

Shapiro denounced St. Olaf’s decision to deny his appearance as “nonsense” in an email to the Star Tribune. Kathryn Hinderaker, a student who led efforts to invite Shapiro to St. Olaf, was also displeased.

“There shouldn’t be any reason he can’t come in on this specific date,” Hinderaker told the Star Tribune, adding that one of the racist notes was later found to be a hoax.

Carl Crosby Lehmann, St. Olaf’s vice president and general counsel, told the Star Tribune that Shapiro’s visit “at this time would have been counterproductive.” Lehmann added, “I don’t think it’s debatable that he is a divisive person.”

Lehmann offered to reschedule Shapiro's appearance in a Feb. 13 email to Hinderaker. But Shapiro had no other available dates this year, according to Hinderaker.

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