After much controversy over Ben Shapiro speaking at Grand Canyon University, the final decision was made to allow him to speak on April 10th. Due to his hateful rhetoric and GCU being a two and a half hour drive away, we decided to drive to Phoenix for the day to protest. After doing research on Shapiro in preparation for our latest blog post, we were more than ready to have a discussion with his supporters.
We made signs that included statistics, quotes, and snarky phrases to bring attention to his hateful comments and the lies he is touting as facts to the public. However, there were a few roadblocks to our plan to peacefully protest. Security was domineering. We are not students at GCU, so we were not allowed on campus due to its private institution status. We would have been allowed to attend if we had a ticket to the event, but we did not want to promote Shapiro by supporting him monetarily. This led to a predicament that we ended up solving—we set up our signs where Ben Shapiro supporters were driving onto campus.
People laughed at us, snickered, took pictures, avoided eye contact, placed their MAGA hat on their dashboard for us to see, or put a poster on their window that said, “Ben Shapiro is my hero.” It is important to note that the people who did this were almost exclusively white males, as that seems to be his fan-base.
It was a small protest, only the four of us. While small, we still voiced our dissent as best as we could under security restrictions. There were people (assumptively GCU students/faculty unaware of the Ben Shapiro event) who waved and had a kind smile on their face, took the time to read the statistics, and asked us what we were protesting.
Shapiro was safe to share his opinions on a private university that has a large amount of students who share his beliefs. Since we were not able to be on campus, we did not have the opportunity to talk to his supporters, express our First Amendment right to assembly, and use our free speech to show our view on Shapiro’s beliefs. This was incredibly telling of how much freedom we truly have.
This first amendment loophole could not have been a coincidence—GCU’s private university status was a safeguard against any productive discussion, and was most likely the reason why Shapiro eventually agreed to present himself on campus. However, we did not let this event go on without dissent. We weren’t scared off by GCU’s overbearing security, and we stood up against Shapiro and his propaganda.