The student-led disruptions during a federal district court judge’s talk at Stanford Law School earlier this month were just the latest example of U.S. universities attempting to prevent conservatives from speaking on campus.
From violent riots at the University of California Davis to threats of violence against Federalist Society members at Yale Law School, here are seven recent examples of disruptions over conservative speakers on American campuses.
1. University of California, Davis, March 14: Protesters smashed windows, hurled eggs, assaulted police officers, and attempted to pepper spray attendees outside of Turning Point USA founder Charlie Kirk’s event in an unsuccessful effort to shut the event down.
Lies spread by the school’s chancellor, Gary May, alleging that Kirk has called for violence against transgender people helped stoke anger, Kirk said. Two protesters were arrested for vandalizing statues with messages that included an Antifa logo.
Kirk threatened legal action against May, who has yet to apologize.
2. Stanford Law School, March 9: Student activists shouted down federal district court judge Kyle Duncan, preventing him from delivering planned remarks at an event organized by Stanford’s Federalist Society chapter.
Among the disruptors was the school’s assistant DEI dean Tirien Steinbach, who arrived at the talk to accuse the judge of causing “harm” and”tearing the fabric of this community.”
Duncan called the dean’s remarks a “bizarre therapy session from hell.”
The law school apologized to Duncan, admitting that administrators failed to enforce the school’s free speech policy against disrupting speakers. The apology prompted another student protest, and students unsuccessfully demanded that the Washington Free Beacon remove their names from reporting.
3. University of New Mexico, Nov. 30, 2022: Protesters attempted to block people from entering a Charlie Kirk event and banged on walls to cause disruptions.
State Police were called in with riot gear and arrested three protesters, including one student.
4. Yale Law School, March 10, 2022: Hundreds of students shouted down a bipartisan event on free speech, resulting in the panelists being escorted out of the building by police.
Among the speakers was Kristen Waggoner, attorney for the conservative Alliance Defending Freedom. Protesters screamed over the remarks, with one student yelling at a Federalist Society member that they would “literally fight you, bitch.”
While a dean called out students for their disruption of the event, the school said it would not pursue formal consequences.
5. University of California Hastings, College of the Law, March 1, 2022: Constitutional scholar Ilya Shapiro was shouted down for 45 minutes by protesters, who pounded on desks and chanted “Black lawyers matter.”
They held signs reading “I am not lesser” and “support Black women.”
Shapiro was not able to finish his remarks. The university condemned students for violating codes of conduct and said shutting down a speaker is “fundamentally contrary” to the school’s values.
6. Saint Louis University, Dec. 1, 2021: Protesters blocked an intersection outside an event where Daily Wire commentator Matt Walsh was speaking.
They shouted, “Queer lives, they matter here, Black lives, they matter here, trans lives, they matter here.”
Walsh attempted to speak with the activists, but they did not want to engage in conversation.
The school only punished one person over the incident—a conservative student who hung up posters advertising the speech earlier in the day.
7. University of Missouri-Kansas City, April 11, 2019: Political commentator Michael Knowles was repeatedly interrupted by protesters yelling obscenities during a lecture. A walk-out ensued where protesters screamed at Knowles and flipped him off.
One student, who was subsequently arrested and charged, shot a water gun filled with an unknown substance toward Knowles and police officers.
The school’s chancellor, C. Mauli Agrawal, praised the “peaceful protesters” who spread “positive messages about diversity and inclusion.”
Republican lawmakers in Missouri then called for Agrawal’s resignation and discussed reducing the school’s budget after the incident. Agrawal then released another statement saying he supports freedom for all.
“It is not the university’s role to take sides, but to rise to the higher principle of promoting a respectful exchange of ideas,” he said.
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